Straight Talk: Locus of Control


Honolulu (KHON2) – Our latest Straight Talk segment with Hooko LLC addressed the concept of “Locus of Control.”

“Locus of control is a concept that was developed by Psychologist Julian Rotter in 1954,” explains President/Co-Founder Rhesa Kaulia. “He was interested in understanding social learning and why some behaviors stick in people and others don’t.  The concept of locus of control is that our lives are a series of actions and outcomes.  We each ascribe a certain locus of control over these, by placing the locus, or location either internally or externally.  If we place it internally, we believe that our own actions determine the outcome.  If we place it externally, we blame others or luck or fate for the outcome.  A person with internal locus of control actively lives their lives by making things happen, the things that they want in their lives.  They happen to life so to speak.  Conversely, a person with external locus of control operates in a more passive manner and allows life to happen to them.”

Edwina Reyes, Vice-President/Co-Founder, sized up the statistics, saying, “In one study conducted by BMC Psychiatry, they found that people who had an internal locus of control identified that it was easier for them to bear the pandemic-related stresses, and that they still had control over their own lives.  Those who identified as having an external locus of control were found to have more symptoms of depression and anxiety. In another health study (conducted by Maltby, Day, & Macaskill, 2017), they found that internal locus of control positively correlates with improved physical and mental health, as well as overall quality of life.  Another study (conducted by April, Dharani, & Peters, 2012) discovered that individuals who have a blend of both internal and external loci report higher levels of happiness.”

Kaulia adds, “It’s important to note that the locus of control is really on a continuum.  No one has a 100% internal or 100% external loci. Having said that, those with internal locus of control are more likely to take responsibility for their actions, tend to be less influenced by other’s opinions, have a strong sense of self-efficacy, work hard to achieve the things they want, are confident in facing challenges, are healthier, report being happier and more independent, and often have greater workplace success. Those with an external locus of control blame others or circumstances for their actions, say they were lucky if they have success, don’t believe they can effect change in their lives, often feel hopeless and powerless, especially in difficult situations, and exhibit a sense of learned helpless.  They also tend to be less healthy and less independent.”

How does a person develop more of an internal locus of control ? Reyes responded, “It’s important that a person take every opportunity to intentionally do things differently than they might normally do. For example, if they tend to shirk responsibility, practice identifying what part of the situation they can own.  Begin to set small goals & purposefully work to achieve them.  Identify the things they do have and appreciate them, instead of what they don’t have and grumble about it.  Work with a therapist who can assist them in understanding locus of control and steps to take to become more internally focused.”

What can someone do if they have questions about locus of control?

Kaulia says, “Our Counseling Center has therapists who are trained to address topics like this.  If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at 808-375-7712 or visit us online at<>.  Often people don’t realize that counseling services are covered by most major health insurances.”

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