Hi, I’m Dr. Roger Hall from Compass Consultation, and this is Roger’s 2 Cents.
I want to talk to you today about internal and external locus of control.
Locus of control is, Where does the control for an outcome come from?
People with an external locus of control, they believe external events like the environment, or the economy, or wages…whatever it is, something outside of them controls the outcome of things in their life.
Internal locus of control people think, “The control comes from inside of me. I can influence my outcome.”
It’s kind of like the depression…“Oh, the great depression. Nobody can make money.” That’s the external locus of control people. The internal locus of control people said, “Well man, this is really hard, but I can figure out how to make money. Lo and behold, in the depression, there was a small subset of people who figured out how to make money. Well they had an internal locus of control.
One example of this is an experiment I’ve heard about with a light on a box, and they told people who came in…they brought a big group of people in…and they said, “If you tap on this box and get the right rhythm, and you tap enough, eventually the light will come on.” Now, what they didn’t tell the people in there is the light came on randomly. It would just come on for a little bit and go off for a little bit.
The external locus of control, they’re tapping for a little bit, the light comes on, and then the light…they sit back and the light goes off with no interaction on their part. And they accurately surmise very quickly they had no control of the outcome.
Now, people like me with an internal locus of control, what are we doing? We’re just like, “ok, ok, I got the light to come on. “Ok…ok…ok it went off…ok…ok…I’ll tap, keep tapping…(inaudible) I know…I know how to do it…so I’ll keep going.” They would persist trying to get the lightbulb on. External locus of control, they’d last for like 2 minutes, and they would accurately summarize that they didn’t have any control. Internal locus of control, even if it’s the illusion of control, will persist for about 15 minutes.
Now, some of you are thinking, well what kind of idiot wants the illusion of control? Well, here’s the advantage, is that great opportunities come from task persistence. If you correctly surmise that you have no control, what happens? You go home and take a nap. Great opportunity comes when the rules of the game change. That persistence, task persistence, allows you to take an opportunity that presents itself late in the game.
It’s like playing a sports event. You know, you’re behind by 2 touchdowns in the third quarter…“Well, we can’t win this. Statistically the odds are against us.” And you give up. That’s the external locus of control. The internal locus of control, says we can do this.
So the team that believes that events outside of them control their destiny are more likely to give up. People who believe they can effect a change are more likely to persist. So when the quarterback on the other team breaks his leg in the fourth quarter, you suddenly got a great opportunity. So it’s important to realize, even if it’s an illusion of control, that illusion of control keeps people in the game longer. Task persistence. And most jobs get solved by people who don’t give up.
And that’s Rogers’ 2 Cents.