Where is my sense of control located? We have all met someone with a strong internal Locus of Control; their behaviour is guided by their personal decisions and efforts. We have probably also come across someone with a strong external Locus of Control, believing that their behaviour is guided by fate, luck, and external circumstances. However, nobody is located totally externally or internally; we all live within a continuum of the two.
The Locus of Control predicts an individual’s future based on their past experiences of the world. A school of thought from 1950s America, the Locus of Control is a psychology concept theory originally developed by Julian Rotter*. It is used in personality psychology to signify a person’s ‘locus’, (Latin for ‘place’ or ‘location’) as either internal or external.
Who we praise and where we apportion blame is consistent with the two modes of being. Those who are internal take credit and responsibility for their actions and those who are external see others as strongly influencing their successes, or at fault when things do not work out well. This external position is associated with depression, helplessness, hopelessness and stress, following predictably poor life choices. Those with a strong internal perspective are more likely to be psychologically healthy and stable.
The Locus of Control is strongly connected to the construction of the ‘sense of self’ and ‘self-evaluation’ as one fundamental dimension for the appraisal of oneself, allowing us to observe our own attribution of power and how it affects our own outlook of life. A child enters the world with a neutral Locus of Control but this can be influenced and moulded by their upbringing, the people around them and their cultural and geographical situation. By the time an individual reaches around 40 years of age the influence of internal factors now have a stronger impact.
In the same way, a geographical location may dictate our locus tendencies. A location with a high frequency of extreme meteorological incidents presents unpredictability and instability; the high incident of tornados of Ohio, USA is one example. Contrastingly the ebb and flow of the tides of Kent’s ‘Thanetian’ coast with its negative hydrogen ions, present predictability and well-being.
The clothes we inhabit represent a dual location, as we at once inhabit both internal and external zones of the garment; a complex expression of self. Our Locus of Control undoubtedly affects the choice of how we dress.