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What is the center of internal and external control and what effect does it have on our lives?

Study guide

When you face a challenge in life, do you feel you can influence the outcome, or do you think that you are struggling in vain and that everything depends on forces beyond your control? If you are one of those people who answered the first question in the affirmative, you have something in mind that psychologists call the Center of Internal Control; But if your answer to the second question is yes, according to psychologists, your control center is in the outer realm. In this article, we will talk about these two concepts and their role in our lives.

What is a Control Center?

The famous American psychologist Julian Rotter first coined the concept in 1954. In psychology, the control center is used to describe a person’s sense of responsibility for the events of his or her life; How much he blames himself, others, or the environment for the bittersweet events of his life.

A person whose center of control is internal sees the events of his life as the result of his own abilities, actions, and mistakes; But one who has an external center of control sees ‌ various life events از through other lenses. He blames environmental factors, chance and random events or the actions of others for what has happened in his life.

Like other concepts of personality psychology, the control center is spectralized, and genetic and environmental factors influence its internalization or externalization. In addition to the possible effect of genes, parents’ attitudes and behaviors in childhood play an important role in the formation of a person’s control center.

What is the importance of the control center?

Researchers have found that being inside or outside the center plays an important role in the success and happiness of people in areas such as education, work and social relationships. In general, those with an internal control center are more successful and happier.

Is the control center a personality trait?

Many people think that the center of control is a personality trait with which a person is born; But scientific evidence shows that child rearing and childhood experiences play a more important role in the formation of this center. Parents who raise their children independently and teach them that every consequence is related to their actions play an important role in the internalization of this center.

What are the differences between external and internal control center?

To better understand the differences between internal and external control center, refer to the table below.

Characteristics of people with internal control center Characteristics of people with external control center
Responsibility for actions Blaming external factors and less inclination to take responsibility
Less influenced by the opinions of others Success is often attributed to luck
Better performance in jobs that require more freedom and initiative Not believing in your ability to change circumstances
Feeling of high self-efficacy Disappointment and passivity in the face of difficult circumstances
The desire to work hard to get what they want High probability of learning helplessness
High self-confidence when facing challenges
More desire to maintain physical health

It should be noted that the control center is a continuous spectrum. No one has a completely internal or completely external control center. Most people are somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum.

There is also another important point that should not be overlooked: the external control center is not necessarily bad. It is not true to say that one internal control center is good and another is bad! Although the internality of this center has a greater role in the success of people, but sometimes it is more useful to rely on its external form.

For a better understanding, consider the following example:

A person performs very poorly in a sport due to physical strength. If the control center of such a person is internal, he constantly blames and even humiliates himself. The result of this approach will be stress and anxiety; On the other hand, if the same person looks at the matter from an external point of view, he will not blame himself for his inherent weakness in this sport, and he will come to terms with the fact that he is not good at it.

In general, it is more beneficial for us to rely on an external control approach when our competencies and abilities do not match what we are going to do.

Relationship between self-efficacy and control center

One of the concepts of psychology related to the control center is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, as described by the famous Canadian-American psychologist Albert Bandura, is the belief in one’s own ability to achieve goals.

Although people with higher self-efficacy usually have a more internal control center, the two concepts do not overlap everywhere. For example, consider a person who thinks that his health is on his own and can maintain it, but at the same time feels that he does not have enough ability to cook and cook healthy food. Such a person has internal control but low self-efficacy.

Control center

Some research shows that effort and practice can enhance a sense of self-efficacy. Although the control center cannot be easily influenced, there is evidence that the control center changes over time and with age.

What is the relationship between the internal control center and the health of body and soul?

Those who believe that their actions and behavior influence future events are more likely to strive to maintain their mental and physical health. Behaviors such as healthy eating and exercise make sense when we know they work. Conversely, when one does not believe this, one may lose hope and become depressed in the face of a dangerous illness.

People who have a high sense of self-efficacy and are the center of control of their inner life respond better to stress; Because they believe their behavior can make a difference. On the other hand, people with low self-efficacy and external control center, when exposed to stress, the body secretes more cortisol and is more likely to despair and depression in the long run.

How do we know if our control center is internal or external?

Psychologists use a variety of methods to understand exactly where our control center is located. However, by analyzing attitudes and evaluating behaviors, we can also get a general idea of ​​where we are.

To understand where your control center is located, read the following sentences and see which one is most present in you:

External control center

  • I usually feel that I have little control over my life and what is happening to me.
  • People seldom get what they get.
  • Planning and goal setting are of little value because there are so many factors that are beyond our control.
  • Life is based on chance.
  • People have little influence over events.

If sentences like the one described describe your outlook on life, then your control center is more external than internal.

Internal control center

  • If you work hard and dedicate yourself to the goal, you can achieve anything.
  • There is no such thing as destiny.
  • If you study a lot and prepare yourself, you will get a good result in the exams.
  • Chance has little to do with success. More effort and will is involved.
  • In the long run, people get what they deserve.

If sentences like the one described describe your outlook on life, then your control center is more internal than external.

Last recommendation

Recommendations about the control center

Your control center has a huge impact on your life; From facing difficult and stressful situations to motivating yourself to take control of your life.

In most cases, the internal control center is more useful because it gives you the belief that your actions are effective.

If your attitude is more based on the external control center, try to change your view of events. Instead of thinking of yourself as a passive person whose efforts are in vain, think about what you can do to change the situation and influence the outcome.

Do you think your control center is internal or external? Have you noticed the change of this center with age? What do you think about this?

Warning! This article is for educational purposes only and you should consult your doctor or specialist to use it. more information






What is the center of internal and external control and what effect does it have on our lives?

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