Locus of Control

The Locus of Control is a concept first developed in the 1960’s by Julian Rotter and is measured along a spectrum (a continuum) with an ‘internal’ locus of control at one end and an ‘external’ locus of control at the other with varying degrees in-between these two extremes.

It represents the way that a person attributes ‘causality’ (what causes things to happen) to experiences or events in their lives.

Over the last 60 years the locus of control model has stood the test of time and is still regarded, today, as a valid and influential psychological perspective.

The Locus of Control is a measure of what people believe about causality and NOT a scientific explanation of causality.

It is also understood to be one of the three main core beliefs that effect how people experience life.

Locus of Control Concept

Locus of Control, Beliefs and Facts

Not everybody around the world believes in the existence of (a) God. As a result of this, they don’t believe that God influences or has a hand in their life experiences or the path that their life follows.

These people believe that it is their own actions and choices that determine what happens during the trajectory of their lives and because of this, we would say they attribute causality ‘internally’ (they have an internal Locus of Control).

The fact that they do not believe in God does not mean that God does not exist, they simply don’t believe that he/she does.

On the other hand, there are many people in the UK who do believe in (a) God and many of them believe that their lives are largely lived according to God’s plan (although current surveys suggest that a belief in God is now a minority belief at less than 50% of the population*).


By the same token, the fact that millions of people do believe in God does not mean that God actually exists, it’s just that those people who believe in God, believe he exists.

Neither believing or not-believing in God makes God any more or less real.

There is no relationship between what people believe and reality.

Believing in something does NOT make it a fact. Most of the time, what we call a fact is really just the ‘best evidence’ we currently have to explain something.

Internal locus of control banner

Internal v External Locus of Control

Sticking with the concept of God outlined above, those who believe that God does exist and influences their daily experiences would have an ‘external’ Locus of Control because they would attribute events and outcomes in their lives as being controlled or influenced by a force outside of themselves.

Those who believe that the outcomes of events or experiences are attributable to their own actions and volition and not due to the ‘will’ or ‘design’ of some unseen deity, would be said to have an ‘internal’ Locus of Control.

People with an external locus of control tend to believe that:

Life is what happens to you.

Whereas those with an internal locus of control tend to believe that:

Life is what you make it.

The locus of control also tends to influence other beliefs that people have, for example those with an external locus of control tend to believe in influences such as:

  • Luck
  • Fate
  • Chance

whereas ‘internals’ tend to believe that:

  • You make you own ‘luck’
  • Life outcomes are NOT pre-determined
  • Outcomes are the result of deliberative actions and not randomly controlled by ‘chance’
Locus of control cup of coffee metaphor

Locus of Control and Mental Well Being

Research indicates that people who have, or who develop, an internal Locus of Control are better able to cope with adversity and challenging situations in life because of their belief that they can always take action to change outcomes.

This is known as ‘resilience‘.

Conversely, those with a more external perspective often feel ‘powerless’ to affect change because they perceive life adversities to be beyond any personal control. In these cases, we would say that they are more ‘susceptible’ to problems.

The Locus of Control Test

If you’d like to find out whether you have an internal or external Locus of Control, you can take the Locus of Control Test here.

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Want to Find Out More?

If you’d like to find out more about developing an internal locus of control using a psychosocial approach, then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular problem, what it means to you and the potential solutions that are available.

We provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment without any obligation for you to commit to any psychotherapy programmes or sessions going forward.

This initial consultation will give you the opportunity to consider the merits of the psychosocial perspective as well as the chance to find out what Paul or Joan are like as individuals.

Contact Paul

You can contact Paul on:

07434 776125

or by e-mail at:

Contact Joan

You can contact Joan on:

07434 776504

or by e-mail at:


Hypnotherapist Joan Lee D. Hyp. MIAEBP

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Lee Psychology, Maypole House, Yew Tree Court, Wombourne, South Staffordshire, WV5 9JB.

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