In general, it seems to be psychologically healthy to perceive that one has control over those things which one is capable of influencing.
In simplistic terms, a more internal locus of control is generally seen as desirable. Having an Internal locus of control can also be referred to as “self-agency”, “personal control”, “self-determination”, etc. Research has found the following trends:
- Males tend to be more internal than females
- As people get older they tend to become more internal
- People higher up in organisational structures tend to be more internal (Mamlin, Harris, & Case, 2001)
However, its important to warn people against lapsing in the overly simplistic view notion that internal is good and external is bad (two legs good, four legs bad?). There are important subtleties and complexities to be considered. For example:
- Internals can be psychologically unhealthy and unstable. An internal orientation usually needs to be matched by competence, self-efficacy and opportunity so that the person is able to successfully experience the sense of personal control and responsibility. Overly internal people who lack competence, efficacy and opportunity can become neurotic, anxious and depressed. In other words, internals need to have a realistic sense of their circle of influence in order to experience ‘success’.
- Externals can lead easy-going, relaxed, happy lives.
Internal Locus of Control
Individual believes that his/her behaviour is guided by his/her personal decisions and efforts.
External Locus of Control
Individual believes that his/her behaviour is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances