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
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.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.