- Lefcourt, H.M. (1976). Locus of Control: Current Trends in Theory and Research. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
- Rotter, J.B. (1954). Social learning and clinical psychology. NY: Prentice-Hall.
- Wikipedia: Locus of Control (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control)
Sunday, December 5, 2010
What Are You Doing...Or Not Doing...On Your Life Stage?
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
In high school, I was constantly on stage - from orchestra and band concerts, to spring musicals, and show choir performances - playing, singing, dancing, and everything in between. Sometimes I had the spotlight, but more often, I was part of a larger ensemble, playing my part to add to the whole. In these groups, there were times when I would play or sing and when I would rest or even go behind the curtain for a scene or two. It all depended on what was needed and called for at the time.
I didn't know it then, but I was also acting out another story on my "life stage." Every person is the author (or screenwriter if you like) of their own life story, choosing what parts to play, what scenes to cut, and what curtain calls to take. Yet often, instead of playing the lead role in our life story, we settled for vying for the "best supporting actress" nomination or even an understudy. Instead of acting in our story, we allow others to act on us. We turn the spotlight away from being the subject of the drama, to being the object in the limelight.
A lot of how we show up on our life stage depends on how we make attributions of action. Are you the subject or the object? The acting or the acted upon? Social psychologists, such as Rotter (1954) and Lecourt (1976), developed the concept of "locus of control" or the extent to which individuals believe they can control events that affect them. Now this doesn't mean that you have the authority or ability to control everything that occurs; rather, it's the idea that you have the choice to view things as internal or external to yourself, which directly impacts how much attribution you take on for your life's circumstances.
Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions. So if you choose not to study for an exam and do poorly, you attribute your low grade to your lack of preparation. Conversely, individuals with a high external locus of control (and low internal locus of control) believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events. After receiving the same low grade on the exam, this individual would blame the professor for creating a test that was too hard and unfair, rather than take responsibility for his/her lack of preparation.
Research has shown that individuals with a higher internal locus of control have better control of their behavior and are more likely to attempt to influence other people than those with a high external locus of control; they are also more likely to assume that their efforts will be successful and are more active in seeking information and knowledge concerning their situation. Interesting.
Given this frame of reference, how are you showing up on your life stage? Are you the actor who is taking responsibility for creating your own script and playing it out, or are you constantly looking to someone else to feed you your lines? Do you find yourself feeling stuck when unexpected things happen that you didn't plan for or don't appreciate or do you bounce back with a sense of resiliency, knowing that you can overcome whatever is thrown in your path? What locus of control are you choosing in your life?
How do you want to show up on your life stage? Start creating your script and acting out the part you want to play now. Your audience is waiting, and you might even get a standing ovation!