Locus of Control Worksheet

Discover your mindset and enhance personal growth with our Locus of Control Worksheet Guide—empower yourself, set goals, and thrive!

By Harriet Murray on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is the locus of control?

Locus of control is a psychological concept that refers to the degree to which individuals believe they can control events that affect them. It was first introduced by psychologist Julian B. Rotter in 1954. The concept helps to understand the extent to which people attribute the outcomes of their lives to internal or external factors.

There are two main types of locus of control:

Internal locus of control

  • Individuals with an internal locus of control believe that their actions and decisions directly influence the outcomes in their lives.
  • They tend to take responsibility for their successes and failures, attributing them to their own abilities, efforts, and choices.
  • People with a high internal locus of control are often more proactive, independent, and confident.

External locus of control

  • On the other hand, individuals with an external locus of control believe that external factors, such as luck, fate, or powerful others, determine the outcomes in their lives.
  • They may feel that they have little control over their circumstances and that events are largely influenced by external forces beyond their control.
  • People with a high external locus of control may exhibit a more passive attitude and may be more prone to feelings of helplessness.

It's important to note that the locus of control is a continuum, and individuals may have to focus on a combination of internal and external beliefs in different aspects of their lives. The concept is often used in personality psychology and has implications for understanding behavior, motivation, and coping strategies in various situations.

Printable Locus of Control Worksheet

Download this Locus of Control Worksheet to help you confidently track your patient's answers or act as an educational tool.

The locus of control activity

Determining your locus of control involves reflecting on your beliefs about your influence over the events in your life. Here's a simple process to help you identify your locus of control:

Self-reflection

Take some time to reflect on your beliefs about control in your life. Consider past experiences and think about whether you tend to attribute outcomes to your actions or to external factors.

Internal locus of control

Ask yourself whether you generally believe that your actions, decisions, and efforts play a significant role in shaping the outcomes in your life.

Consider instances where you took initiative, made choices, and experienced success or failure. Did you attribute these outcomes to your abilities and actions?

External locus of control

Reflect on situations where you may have felt that external factors, such as luck, fate, or the actions of others, played a dominant role in determining the outcomes. Consider whether you tend to attribute successes or failures to forces outside of your control and whether you often feel like a victim of circumstances.

Observation of patterns

Consider whether your beliefs about control are consistent across various aspects of your life (e.g., career, education, relationships, health). Look for patterns in how you explain events. Do you frequently attribute outcomes to your efforts, or do you often feel at the mercy of external forces?

Locus of control assessment tools

Psychological assessments, such as the Rotter's Locus of Control Scale, are designed to measure an individual's locus of control. These assessments often consist of statements about control beliefs, and individuals rate their agreement with each statement.

Interpretation

Based on your reflections on self-esteem and any assessment results, you can identify whether you have a predominantly internal, external, or balanced locus of control.

Remember that locus of control can vary across different aspects of life, and it's not a fixed trait. Experiences, knowledge, culture, and personal development can influence it. Understanding your locus of control can provide insights into your mindset, decision-making, and coping strategies, potentially leading to personal growth and positive changes.

Locus of Control Worksheet example (sample)

Eager to utilize this essential therapy tool? Acquire a free, downloadable, and printable Locus of Control Worksheet Template PDF with fictional data to help you confidently track your patient's answers or act as an educational tool. 

Secure your copy by either previewing the sample below or clicking the "Download Example PDF" button.

Download this free Locus of Control Worksheet example here

Locus of Control Worksheet example (sample)

What are the benefits of the Locus of Control Worksheet?

Using a locus of control worksheet can offer several benefits, helping individuals gain insights into their beliefs about control in their lives. Here are some potential benefits:

  • Self-awareness: The worksheet encourages individuals to reflect on their beliefs and assumptions regarding control over their lives. This process enhances self-awareness by bringing attention to their thought patterns and perspectives.
  • Identification of patterns: Completing a locus of control worksheet allows individuals to identify patterns in how they attribute success and failure. Recognizing consistent patterns can be key to understanding one's mindset and behavior.
  • Personal growth: Understanding one's locus of control can catalyze personal growth. It provides a starting point for individuals to assess whether their beliefs align with their goals and values and whether any adjustments are needed for personal development and personality traits.
  • Empowerment: For those with an external locus of control, the worksheet can serve as a tool for empowerment. By identifying areas where they can exert more influence and control, individuals may be motivated to take proactive steps toward their goals.
  • Decision-making insights: An individual's locus of control can influence decision-making processes. Completing a worksheet can offer insights into whether decisions are often driven by a sense of personal agency or by external factors, leading to more informed and intentional choices.
  • Coping strategies: People with different loci of control may employ different coping strategies. Recognizing one's locus of control can help individuals understand how they cope with challenges and stress. This awareness can be valuable for adopting healthier coping mechanisms and mental health management.
  • Goal setting and achievement: Individuals with a strong internal locus of control tend to set and pursue goals more effectively. The worksheet can assist in aligning goals with beliefs about personal control, leading to a more strategic and focused approach to achievement.
  • Communication and relationships: Understanding one's locus of control can also have implications for communication and relationships. It can help individuals appreciate the impact of personal beliefs on interactions with others and foster better communication.
  • Stress reduction: For individuals with a high external locus of control who may feel overwhelmed or stressed by external factors, the worksheet can be a starting point for developing strategies to manage stress and build resilience.
  • Continuous reflection: A locus of control worksheet is not a one-time exercise. It can be a tool for ongoing reflection and self-monitoring, allowing individuals to track changes in their beliefs and adjust as needed.

Keep in mind that while a locus of control worksheet can be a valuable tool, its effectiveness may vary among individuals. It is just one of many strategies that can contribute to personal development and well-being.

The theory behind the locus of control

The term "Locus of Control" was introduced by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, reflecting social learning theory. Rotter's 1966 article summarized a decade of research. While Alfred Adler may have used the term earlier, credit primarily goes to Rotter and his early works.

William H. James, one of Rotter's understudies, explored "expectancy shifts." Typical shifts link success to future success, as seen in a basketball player's consecutive successful shots. Atypical shifts view success as unrelated to future outcomes, as illustrated by a casino bettor perceiving each spin as independent.

Research indicates that individuals with confidence in their abilities exhibit typical expectancy shifts, while those doubting their skills attribute expectancies to fate rather than skill.

Various methods exist for assessing locus of control, with Rotter's 1966 questionnaire being the most widespread (Rotter, 1966). Bialer's 23-item scale predates Rotter's, and there are alternatives like the Crandall Intellectual Ascription of Responsibility Scale and the Nowicki-Strickland Scale, though Rotter's questionnaire remains dominant.

One of Rotter's understudies, William H. James, created an early psychometric scale for anxiety and the locus of control, emphasizing the significant influence of Rotter and his students. Numerous measures have emerged, ranging from those predating Rotter's original designs to those tailored for specific groups, such as children.

According to Furnham and Steele (1993), The Duttweiler Internal Control Index (ICI) is deemed the most reliable and valid questionnaire for adults, potentially surpassing Rotter's scale and addressing perceived issues with it. The worksheet accompanying this guide models itself after the ICI.

References

Bialer, I. (1961). Conceptualization of success and failure in mentally retarded and normal children. Journal of Personality.

Furnham, A., & Steele, H. (1993). Measuring locus of control: A critique of general, children’s, health‐and work‐related locus of control questionnaires. British Journal of Psychology, 84(4), 443–479.

Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied,80(1), 1.

What is the locus of control?
What is the locus of control?

Commonly asked questions

What is the locus of control?

Locus of control refers to individuals' beliefs about control over events in their lives. This self-awareness can be internal (believing in personal control) or external (attributing control to external factors).

How can I determine my locus of control?

You can assess your locus of control through questionnaires like Rotter's 1966 scale. Reflect on whether you attribute life outcomes to your actions (internal) or external factors (external).

Why does locus of control matter?

Locus of control is linked to attitudes, behaviors, and overall well-being. Internals tend to be more proactive, confident, and achievement-oriented, while externals may experience stress and feelings of helplessness. Understanding your locus of control can aid personal development and self-awareness.

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