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External Locus of Control Mindset

Part I:  Description

What is an External Locus of Control Mindset?

An external locus of control refers to a psychological belief system where individuals attribute their successes or failures primarily to outside forces beyond their control. This often includes factors like luck, fate, powerful others, or systemic injustice.

Characteristics of an External Locus of Control

People with this mindset tend to:

  • Feel powerless: They believe they have little agency to influence positive outcomes in their lives.

  • Blame others or circumstances: They often attribute setbacks to things like bad luck or the actions of others.

  • Lack motivation: They may feel less driven to pursue goals, believing that external factors will determine the outcome anyway.

  • Experience higher stress and anxiety: Feeling a lack of control can lead to increased stress and feelings of helplessness.

The Opposite: Internal Locus of Control

Those with an internal locus of control believe their actions and choices significantly influence their outcomes.They take responsibility for successes and failures, leading to greater motivation and resilience.

Is an External Locus of Control Always Bad?

There can be nuances. Recognizing real systemic barriers is valid. The problem arises when this mindset becomes all-encompassing, leading to learned helplessness and inaction.

Part II:  Common Questions

How does an external locus of control develop?

  • Answer: It often stems from experiences where efforts didn't seem to correlate with results. This could be due to:

    • Past failures despite persistence.

    • Growing up in unpredictable or chaotic environments.

    • Belonging to groups facing systemic discrimination (recognizing real-world barriers ISN'T the same as a purely external mindset).

What are the negative consequences of an external locus of control?

  • Answer: This mindset can lead to:

    • Learned helplessness: Giving up easily on goals.

    • Low self-esteem: Believing you lack the ability to impact your life.

    • Depression and anxiety: Feeling a lack of control can increase mental health difficulties.

    • Procrastination: "Why bother trying if success depends on luck?"

Can a person with an external locus of control be successful?

  • Answer: It's harder, but possible. Success often depends on external factors they can't control, making it inconsistent. Also, they are less likely to credit themselves when things go right.

Can someone change from an external to an internal locus of control?

  • Answer: Absolutely! While it takes effort, here's how:

    • Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can address negative thought patterns.

    • Journaling: Track successes, noting your role in creating them.

    • Small goals: Start with achievable targets to build confidence in your agency.

Is an external locus of control a mental illness?

  • Answer: No, it's a thought pattern. However, it’s often present alongside depression, anxiety, or as a result of past trauma. Seeking professional support can be beneficial.

Part III:  Additional Resources

Books about External Locus of Control

  • Locus of Control: Current Trends in Theory & Research edited by Herbert M. Lefcourt: Explores the concept in-depth, covering its history, measurement, and implications for various areas of life.

  • Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman: The founder of positive psychology explains how learned helplessness develops and offers strategies for cultivating a more optimistic, internally-focused mindset.

  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck: While not specifically focused on locus of control, this bestseller explores growth mindsets vs. fixed mindsets, which can strongly influence your belief in your own agency.

Websites and Articles about External Locus of Control

  • Verywell Mind: What Is an External Locus of Control?: Offers a clear definition, examples, and discusses the potential impacts on mental health.

  • Psychology Today: Locus of Control: Provides articles and insights about the development and consequences of different locus of control mindsets.

Therapy Approaches about External Locus of Control

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps identify and restructure negative thought patterns, shifting from external blame towards recognizing your influence on situations.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Can be helpful if there are real external barriers. Focuses on taking action in line with your values despite them, reducing a sense of helplessness.

Online Tools about External Locus of Control

  • Locus of Control Scales: Various psychology websites offer short questionnaires to assess where you fall on the internal vs. external spectrum.

Additional Tips about External Locus of Control

  • YouTube: Search for videos on "external locus of control" from licensed therapists for additional explanations and tips.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

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