Monday, 26 October 2009

Locus of Control

You might think Biologists look down their noses at Psychology. Well, you'd be mostly right. There's a lot of snobbery when it comes to other fields of science. Like, Physicists think they study the one true science, and everything else is just derived from their reality. Economists see most systems in an economic light, and question why other people just can't see how things work.

But I like Psychology, and I've taken a couple of courses in it. It's everything you didn't know about yourself - we're actually quite terrible at knowing why we do most of the things we humans do!

Recently, I started reading a bit on the Imposture Syndrome - it's where you feel that you've got to where you are by faking it. It's a big problem in Academia, where you're constantly surrounded by very smart people, and it makes you feel like you're the dumb person in the room who got in because of some sort of mistake. A related phenomenon is that you're more likely to seriously question your own work, and give other people a pass because you underestimate your own expertise.

A related thingy is the idea of a Locus of Control. It is a measure of how much control you think you can exercise in your life. People with a low score mean they think anything they do or don't, accomplish or fail to accomplish, is purely on their own head. That is to say, you think you can control whether good or bad things happen to you. A corollary of this is that when bad things happen to people, people with a low score tend to say they brought it on themselves. They also are more likely to assume their actions will be successful

On the opposite end of the spectrum are people with an external locus of control. The perceive the ones' advancement (or problems) as being due to things outside their control. You didn't get that promotion? It's because you weren't lucky, or there's grift in the system. Or something was fated. The view is more of life blowing them around to wherever they are.

There's suggestions that one's locus of control is derived from experiences in the family. Based on this, it shouldn't be surprising that culture is somewhat predictive of whether one has an internal or external locus of control - though, it's a weak prediction. Arabs, for example, are slightly more likely to be `fatalistic` (not my words!), and therefore score as having more external control.

There's a cool little questionaire that you can take online from a psych proffs' webpage, where you can find out whether you have a more internal or external locus of control. You can find it here. When you take it, just follow the instructions, and if you find one you can't decide on, pick the least worst of the two. For the curious, I scored as having a weakly external locus of control.


dragonfly said...

9, but I think I got lucky on a few of those answers.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Hmmmm, I tend to stay away from online quizzes and such (although one of the IQ thingys gave me 148, I'd had a lot of beer too), but I'll give this one a go and let you know what I score.

Why would I want to do this? Well, for some reason, everything always works out for me. Guardian angel? Fate? Not whining when things go wrong? Who knows? But it does. So let's see what the intertube psychobabblists have to say about me... ha!

TwoYaks said...

@Dave: This isn't an online quiz perse. It's a a questionnaire developed for psychological research that someone ported online. Which means unlike those dumb IQ tests, it's gone through Peer-Review, tested, exampled, poked some more, and declared `pretty okay.` :)

gpc said...

Interesting. I got a 10, clearly need to work more on self realization.