(#195) Nurturing an Internal Locus of Control

A person’s interpretation of an event can have
a powerful impact on future motivation.

One of the most powerful strategies for success focuses on the concept of locus of control.  Where is the focus of power in your life?  Do you believe the world happens to you (external locus of control)—or do you believe you create the world you live in (internal locus of control)?

While none of us may be totally “external” or totally “internal” we

Image: markuso/ FrereDigitalPhotos.net

Image: markuso/

probably trend toward one side of the spectrum.  For instance, I tend to have a strong internal locus of control.  I do believe that what I do has an impact on the world I live in.  I also understand that there are times when I am at the mercy of forces beyond my control. A recent example: I was scheduled to be in San Diego this past Thursday. Well, the snow/ice storm that raged through the Southeast had other plans for me!  Yep, I was upset; I fumed; I called Delta. And the airlines still cancelled flights.  My dean reminded me that it was a great lesson in “letting go.”

A related theory is the Attribution Theory of Julian B. Rotter.  (Also, see Bernard Weiner.) Think of an attribution as an explanation. This area of research focuses on how a person’s explanation or interpretation of an event motivates him or her to perform in the future. For example, a person’s view of success or failure will depend on four attributes (or explanations).

 Attribute (why something happened)

Description of the attribute

Effort The person did or did not exert the required effort to be successful.
Ability The person did or did not have the required skills to be successful.
Task difficulty The task was or was not too difficult to complete.
Luck The person was lucky or unlucky.

These attributes can determine one’s motivation in the future.  If, for example, a student believes his lack of effort on a test led to a failing grade, he might be motivated to put in more study time before the next exam.  Since he knows that he could have done better, the student believes that change for the better is within his control. On the other hand, if the student believes he did poorly because the instructor writes incredibly difficult exams that no one could possibly pass, he might resign himself to doing poorly in the course because, he thinks, there is nothing he can do about the writing of the instructor’s exams.  His motivation declines (a form of learned helplessness?)—he might very well fail the subsequent exam.

Bernard Weiner found that effort and ability were generally associated with an internal locus of control.  On the other hand, task difficulty and luck were found to have an external locus of control.

Video recommendation for the week:

Some people never let obstacles stop them. Take Tony Melendez for example.

Where is your power? Where do live on the locus of control spectrum? Do external obstacles stop you or push your further?

Make it a wonderful week— H.T.R.B. as needed.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://stevepiscitelli.com/webinars.html).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

 (c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in creating your future, Discipline, Excuses, Goals, Personal Wellbeing, Success and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to (#195) Nurturing an Internal Locus of Control

  1. marianbeaman says:

    God is the source of my life, giving me power to live it. My relationship with Him motivates me to exert effort to push past obstacles in my path. Is it internal or external? In my case, I believe it’s both.
    By the way, I loved the anniversary photos of you and your sweet bride on FB!
    You are doing good work here, always inspirational, Steve. Thank you!


    • Yaya says:

      I believe in the law of attraction. My energy and vibes help to either bring events,people or situations my way or it pushes them away depending on my thought process.I agree with marianbeamen for God is the source of my life as well, He provides me with the holy spirit to help guide my choices. I use internal locus control mainly in my life however external events or things not in my control also contribute to life making descisions. Ultimately I believe how we “Think” becomes who we truelly are and it helps form our destiney.


  2. Kristina says:

    I feel like this so true..u can only worry about things u can only can control.Just h.t.r.b


  3. Anthony Cason says:

    For me, my focus of power in my life is internal however, its source of strenght is the external forces ( good and bad) that occur from time to time. All of my adult life my Internal Locus of control has been able to overcome and or maintain through the negative and positive occurances in my life. More importantly,I have gained valuable life experiences which enable me to cope with all unexpected and expected occurances in life.


  4. Pingback: (#240) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2014 In Review | Steve Piscitelli's Blog

  5. Pingback: (#369) About Kayaks And Perspective | Steve Piscitelli

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s