November 24th, 2011

breaking bad

Locus of Control

There is a discussion at Crooked Timber, and an article in the NY Times, about people's beliefs about Locus of Control.

Perception of 'Locus of Control' means whether we feel that we are in control of our own destinies, or whether we feel that our life chances are determined by factors outside our personal control.

Here is a test to find out where you place your Locus of Control. My results were 51% to 49% between internal and external locus of control.
Your results suggest you believe your life is defined about equally by both internal forces (drive, free will, etc.) and external forces (genetics, environment, fate). Thus, you have an Ambiverted Locus of Control

I think I have both positive and negative characteristics which have helped to determine my path in life. I can be quite agressive and intellectual, I have volatile emotions, I am over-imaginative, careless, too easily discouraged (and so on). All these things which are internal to me have helped to determine the path I took in life.

On the other hand, it is because I was fortunate enough to be born in England in the 1960s that I was able to express my personal characteristics. I was born into a society where women were gaining rights to education and work equality, and where I had access to some opportunities which were not available to generations before or after me. When I became ill I was treated. When I learned to read there was a library. All of these things which allowed me to express my internal Locus of Control, were paradoxically given to me without my earning them, just by the luck of my birth.

People have said that believing you are in control can lead to better outcomes, but feeling you are out of control is more accurate. Believing in internal control can make people callous to those who have suffered. Yet I would want to bring up a child to feel that they can suceed despite everything.

People in the US and the UK tend to have greater belief in internal Locus of Control, but paradoxically these are countries where it is harder than ever before to change your lot in life.