The aim of this paper is to discuss and analyze the cause and impact of locus of control personally and in the organization.
Locus of Control (LOC) is one of the important aspect of personality within psychology. The concept was originally developed by Julian B. Rotter in the 1950s, an American psychologist, as he defined LOC as “Generalized belief that a person can or cannot control his own destiny or a person’s perspective on the events whether he able to control behavior that happened to him or not.”
1.2 Types of Locus of Control
There are mainly two types of basic Locus of Control (LOC): Internal Locus of Control and External Locus and Control. People with Internal LOC believe that he or she can influence events and their outcomes (by their own personal decisions and efforts), whereas people with External LOC blames outside forces (such as fate, luck, or other external circumstances) for almost everything.
Internals tend to believe that every action they do has its own consequences, things happen depends on how they manage and want to control them – the opposite of what externals believes in. Externals tend to believes that the world has its own complexity which one could not possibly predict and control its outcomes (for example getting diseases such as cancer even though the person has no medically history causes, and thus he believes that it is his fate to have it. Or that the government controls everything and a mere citizen would not be able to change the outcome of what the politicians have previously decide).
Clear differences between External and Internal Locus of control can be seen as follows:
Those with an External Locus of Control Those with an Internal Locus of Control
• Mostly blames outer forces for their circumstances.
• They credit luck or chance for any successes.
• Tend to not believe that they can change their situation through their own efforts.
• Frequently feel hopeless or powerless in the face of difficult situations
• Are more prone to experiencing learned helplessness • Are more likely to take responsibility for their actions
• Tend to be less influenced by the opinions of other people
• Often do better at tasks when they are allowed to work at their own pace
• Usually, have a strong sense of self-efficacy
• Tend to work hard to achieve the things they want
• Feel confident in the face of challenges
• Tend to be physically healthier
• Report being happier and more independent.
• Often achieve greater success in the workplace
Another type of control that contains a mix of internal and external types is referred as Bi-locals. People who have Bi-local characteristics are known to be able to cope and handle their stress and diseases more efficiently. Also, they could take better personal responsibility of their actions and thus consequences.
1.3 Causes of Locus of Control
Main factors which heavily affect the development of Locus of control in people are: education, age, cultural background, ethnicity, gender and health (mental and physical).
Education – It is generally lead and believed that more education increases a person’s internal locus of control.
This can be proofed by the statement cited by Kirkpatrick, Stant, & Downes, 2008, p. 486: “High scoring students identify effort and ability as causes of their success, whereas those performing poorly are more likely to cite test difficulty and bad luck as causes”.
And as cited in Grimes, Millea, & Woodruff, 2004, para. 8: “Students with internal locus of control are more likely to process information with “deep or strategic learning approaches”.
Age – Schieman S. (2001), stated that ‘An individual’s locus of control morphs as they age: as an individual gets older, they lose their sense of control.’
He suggests that ‘Retirement, widowing, and deteriorating health all contribute to a low sense of control, whereas education, marriage, financial satisfaction, and religious association can all help maintain an internal locus of control.’
Cultural Background and Ethnicity – Both contributed to one’s locus of control, as Lefcourt pointed out in 1982 as an example that, “Minority groups who do not enjoy as much access to opportunity as do the predominant Caucasian groups in North American society, are often found to hold fatalistic, external control beliefs.”.
Gender – During the olden days, woman are less likely to possess an internal locus of control than men. However, the gender stereotype in regards to locus of control is changing as new era begin.
As according to Slagsvold, B. ; Sorensen, A. (2008), “As gender inequality in education and life chances decline, we should expect to see gender difference in sense of control to decline as well, because women’s and men’s life courses are converging.”
Health (Mental ; Physical) – A direct relationship can also be seen between an individual’s locus of control and their health, both mental and physical.
A study explains that college students who experience ‘severe stress make more behavioral attributions to chance’, in which in a way it means they possess an external locus of control more than those who doesn’t experience excessive stress. Overall, those with an external locus of control have a more difficult time dealing with stress, including the stress that develops as a result of deteriorating health, which can then lead to worsening health conditions (Lefcourt, 1982, p. 103).
1.4 Importance and Impact of Locus of Control
Internal locus of control is most preferred and desired compared to external locus of control as it represents personal control, commitment to achievement and self-determination. However, extreme cases of overly internal people which doesn’t show/has only little amount of external locus of control, usually does not have a very realistic sense of goal. When they are not being backed up by matched competence, opportunity and self-efficacy, they tend to be more neurotic, anxious and depressed. It is logical and is ‘healthy’ if internal people could still know and believe that some things are outside of their ability to handle and is caused by external forces. People who has healthy external locus of control, thus could have a more relaxed and happier lives. Despites most of this theory, psychological researchers still believe and found that internals tend to get better paying jobs and are more loyal to their company as they are more achievement oriented – just as stated in the research; “Individuals with high external locus are less likely to be committed to their organizations … they may feel unable to influence organizational decision making regardless of their actual feelings about the issue being discussed … they are easily silenced by high internals who can easily try to control group dynamics” (Jatkevicius, 2010, p. 78).
1.5 Recommendations/Applications (managerial context)
Research has shown that – “Individuals with high external locus are less likely to be committed to their organizations … they may feel unable to influence organizational decision making regardless of their actual feelings about the issue being discussed … they are easily silenced by high internals who can easily try to control group dynamics” (Jatkevicius, 2010, p. 78)
By being aware of the employee’s different locus of control level, a manager could know more about his employee and their behaviours; why they act the way they do and making necessary corrections according to their different level of psychological needs.
It is also recommended that they use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to know more specifically before hand of their employee’s locus of control.