Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Locus of Control

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1799-1



Locus of control consists of an individual’s beliefs about the causes of their life events. Specifically, an internal locus of control reflects the belief that events in one’s life are determined by one’s own actions, whereas an external locus of control reflects the belief that these events are instead due to outside forces.


The term “locus of control” was originally introduced by Rotter (1966) as the “locus of control of reinforcement,” a component of social learning theory. This theoretical perspective was groundbreaking in its combination of learning and cognitive principles. Consistent with behaviorist theorists, Rotter believed behavior was strongly influenced by situational consequences, or rewards and punishments. However, he also acknowledged the role of individual cognition in influencing behavior, as he asserted the importance of one’s beliefs about the value of the consequences and the likelihood that one’s...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Cottrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Social SciencesNew College of FloridaSarasotaUSA