It was theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who is quoted as saying "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." There is more to this plea than a desire for serenity when faced with tumultuous times. Niebuhr's quote hints at the idea of locus of control (LOC), the extent to which people believe they have control over circumstances and events in their life.
Those who have an "internal" LOC are more likely to feel that their actions make a difference. Rather than sitting idly by and letting things happen, they are proactive; they feel that they can change the course of their life based on the actions they take and the decisions they make. Those with an "external" LOC are more likely to feel like victims of life's ups and downs. Their life, it seems, will always be at the mercy of outside forces (like destiny, luck - good or bad, or other uncontrollable factors), and there's nothing they can do about it. This often leads to a passive, defeatist and, let’s face it, pretty grim view of life. As Homer Simpson put it (in a misguided and unsuccessful attempt to cheer up his children), "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is 'never try'."
After releasing their Locus of Control test (Are you in charge of your life?) and analyzing results from over 55, 000 test-takers, Queendom.com made some interesting discoveries about people's views on life and destiny. The majority of people feel that they do possess some degree of control over their life. While most people reported feeling that not all events and circumstances were within their power to change, they do not believe that they are hapless puppets in life's dark drama. Queendom also uncovered interested gender and age differences. While men were slightly more likely than women to take proactive control of their love life, women were more likely than men to believe that they could make a difference in the world, and that they had control over their level of health. Locus of control also seemed to be a function of age, with older age groups possessing a more internal LOC than their younger counterparts, particularly in terms of health, love, and the ability to overcome heredity and a difficult childhood. Older people were also less likely to believe in luck, destiny, or fate.
"Locus of control can have a significant impact on people's actions," explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. "There are some advantages to an external LOC … disappointment and failure aren't so hard to swallow if you can blame it on uncontrollable circumstances, so your self-esteem isn't challenged. However, people with an internal locus typically fare better in life. People with internal LOC own their successes and failures, and don't sit back and wait for things to happen. They feel in control of their life, and they make things happen. They actively look for opportunities. They are more likely to take responsibility for mistakes, learn from their experience, and see self-improvement as a long-term process. If you have an internal LOC employee or romantic partner, you'll have someone who is confident, proactive and in control, who takes life by the proverbial horns, rather than being jostled aimlessly by life's bumps and bruises."
Other interesting tidbits from Queendom's data:
- 12% of people feel that those who are happy have probably led an easy life;
- 76% believe that they can rise above their background and become successful;
- 23% believe that bad or good luck can follow someone around;
- 68% believe that they can heal from and overcome a painful childhood;
- and 22% believe that many people lead miserable lives because of their parents.
Locus of control also extends to global issues and health. For example,
- 56% feel that their vote makes a difference;
- 48% believe that we can abolish crime if we set our minds to it;
- 69% feel that they can instigate change if they see injustice in the world;
- a whopping 88% of people feel that they can live a longer life if they live healthy now;
- and 62% believe that fighting and beating cancer is possible.
An internal locus of control in regards to health could make a huge difference. The idea that a "placebo effect" and self-belief can have an impact on health is widely known phenomena. While researchers have gone back and forth on these theories for years, there is now evidence to show that being optimistic can have a positive influence on wellbeing and healing. However, the scientific community is still scratching the surface when it comes to the mind-body connection, as to the physiological basis of the phenomenon. Are those with a positive mindset, who believe that they can be healthy, that illnesses can be healed more likely to see a positive impact on their health? Are self-belief and an internal locus of control panaceas? "We can't answer that. But what we can say is that those who feel that they have control over their sickness and their lives in general may be in a better place mentally, and by the same token, physically, than those who feel helpless and resigned."
Those who wish to take the Queendom's Locus of Control Test can go to https://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=704. Interested in using the Locus Of Control Assessment for HR or counseling purposes? Visit http://psychtests.com/solutions.