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Locus of Control

BionicWomanBBionicWoman Posts: 619
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Chronic Pain
A big part of my educational/professional background involves understanding human social behavior - online and offline. Among the head-butting going on around here lately, I've noticed an underlying issue and I thought some people might be interesting in this little tidbit of information that could explain a part of it.

There's a psychological concept referred to as a person's "locus of control" and it has a huge impact on who butts heads with whom, especially on sites like this. A person's locus of control is basically their view of how/why life takes the twists and turns that it does, and how much control we have over those things.

The locus of control runs along a continuum, but has two distinct ends: the external locus of control and the internal locus of control.

People who have an external locus of control tend to believe that things happen or come to them because some outside force controls those things, whether that's fate, karma, destiny, God, your boss, mother, state governor, etc. For people with an external locus of control, they lean toward the idea that it doesn't matter much what they do because outside forces control the outcome anyway.

People who have an internal locus of control believe they have a significant influence over things that happen to them. These people tend to be more action oriented in just about every area of life. They don't believe as much in luck as in planning and they tend to believe the outcome of any situation directly reflects their efforts and behaviors. They seek information and knowledge, so they can make the most appropriate decisions in every arena of their life. They also tend to take more responsibility for their personal situations - both positive and negative.

The thing about these two categories of people is that when you get a large group of people together, those who fall strongly on one end or the other tend to irritate the crap out of each other.

If you're curious about where you fall on the scale, there's a little online test available through the UNCC website:


Obviously it's not as simplistic as just taking a 13 question test to define who you are in the deepest recesses of your personality, but that quicky test can give you an idea of where you fall on that particular scale and might offer a little bit of insight to why some heads are butting with some other heads so much lately.

I think it's pretty obvious with me, but just in case it's not.. I have a very strong internal locus of control. ;)


  • I have a very strong internal locus of control.

    No surprise there.

  • I think (my opinion,cuz I'm not as educated as you) that some but heads cuz they are more alike than they care to admit.
    I know I'm hard headed but not stupid.
    So I'm gonna butt heads with another as hard headed and not stupid like me!
    I know I butt heads with my dad, but he raised me to be like him more than I care to be.
    And sometimes more than he wants me to be. But he did it! I didn't have a chance in hell to not be, LOL? Like my son too, he was never round his dad much,but Is like him in alot of ways. And the rest he gets from me and how I've raised him.
    Did that sound stupid? That's what I got from your big words,LOL,hope I understood you right though. Like I said, I'm not as educated as you. You are really smart. So just ignore if I'm wrong.

  • I didn't say it's the only reason people butt heads, just that it's one I'm seeing as an underlying factor on this forum lately. ;)

    I think a big part of the reason is that people with a strong internal locus of control will be among those who believe their recovery and treatment plan is their own creation and responsibility, whereas people with an external locus of control will leave it to the hope that others (doctors, surgeons, PTs, other forum members, etc.) will just provide the answer that will fix them. There's a fundamental incompatibility between those two approaches to healing.

  • Thanks for clarifying it for me.
    I think I'm a little of both. Is that possible?
    Or is there another name for that?
  • Yes, some people fall right in the middle, but most have a definite tendency toward one direction or the other.

    If you follow the link in my post (to the University of North Carolina website) and answer the test, it'll give you a number score that gives a general idea of where you fall - even if it's in the middle.

    It's not one of those things where one way of thinking is better than the other, they're just very different approaches to life.
  • You passed Michael.. and were exactly where I'd expect you to be, considering 0 is as internal as you can get.. =))
  • 1 - LOL - that is funny!
  • who cares where the control comes from. you just wish there was control of some sort. when the outside forces and your own efforts provide no positive direction then what?
    oops i got off the subject we are supposed to be talking about butting heads. some outside force must have misdirected me....
  • I feel Like going to a soccer match - in Brighton, Pete , lets drop by straker and pick him up! Be a nice Sat outting! LOL
  • Very cool... B)

    I really enjoy participating in these types of questionnaires. Makes me want to dig out my old college psychology material, however, I'm quite sure there are many other online "tests" such as this one. (Or ones BionicWoman could send me links to? Hint, hint, hint?).

    Thanks for posting this, BionicWoman.

    My score was a 3. I cleared the answers and took the test twice, for good measure. Both times I scored a 3.

    Have a great weekend, everyone.


    P.S. I hope you are feeling much better, BionicWoman.

  • But was really shocked to see that I got an 8. Really thought I would have landed in the other direction lol.

  • trouble is we would be so out of control we would butt heads...who would drive? . do any of us have control?...i think thats when an outside force like policeman steps in to take over .....
  • Am I going to implode? I got 1...
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I got a 1 too. Guess I am going to implode right alongside Smiley....LOL
  • :))( Got a 3 -- One for each stooge!

  • Just for the record, that test isn't my test.. it's just a link to a reputable website that I knew had a quick and short test.

    My personal version of the locus of control test is to watch how people react when I put them in charge of my dogs. Never fails - internal people are just fine, external people panic ;)

    Tammy, I'm still working out a few kinks, but I'm feeling a good bit better. I go back to my PM in just over a week and hopefully the last of the issues will get sorted out at that visit.

    As far as the tests go, Queendom has tons of tests - personality and otherwise. They also have a longer version of that locus of control test, with almost 50 questions that gives a more detailed result.


  • I want to play i got a 7 almost in the middle. thought for sure i would score higher.
  • I got a 4 - what does that mean ? :??
  • pete81241 said:
    who cares where the control comes from. you just wish there was control of some sort. when the outside forces and your own efforts provide no positive direction then what?
    In my opinion, where the control comes from is extremely important because if we don't have an awareness of that in ourselves, trouble brews when we're trying to find treatment.

    For me, it's very important to know that I have such a strong internal locus of control, because if/when I meet up with a doctor that is very "external," it becomes toxic for me. I accept that there's no "cure" for my condition, but I absolutely will not accept a doctor that says "it is what it is, you can't change it" and leaves it at that.

    I believe strongly that I can influence my condition, both positively and negatively, and can't stand doctors just blow me off when I want to discuss options. The only time I'm happy is when I have a doctor that's equally as "internal" as I am. I want a doctor who is willing to constantly explore options and who respects the value I bring to my own plan of care.

    For a person with an strong external locus of control, meeting my doctor would probably be toxic to them, because it forces them to participate in their care at a level that is outside of their comfort zone.

    As to what happens when your external and internal forces don't provide positive direction - I firmly believe that those forces always provide positive direction, even when they result in a negative outcome. Knowing what doesn't work is just as important as knowing what does work; both lead you in a positive direction. In my opinion, complacency as the only truly negative direction.


  • The lower the number, the more "internal" you are when it comes to your locus of control, so a score of 4 puts you much closer to the "where there's a will, there's a way" side of the scale versus the "let go and let God" side.

    And your 4 doesn't surprise me in the least, after following your quest to get your various Fentanyl patch issues beaten into submission :D
  • Bionic lol yep your right that fits me - thanks for explaining :)
  • guess i should take more control ?
  • I think my feeling of being in control is out of control now with this back injury and not being able to work. A real feeling of powerlessness that has affected how I feel about control. It may even affect the way I answers certain questions....Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • There is a study- from psycology in spain - 2006, I believe that looked at all modalities of treatment of people. This included all of the current models and the newest pain gate theory. The largest factor - across europe and north amercia, was the outlook of someone - whether they were willing to do someonthing for themselves or not. Those who wanted everything done for themselves and took no repsonsiblity, did not do well in thier suregeries and had a higher death rate.

    This was based on 30,000 patients.

  • Thank you for sharing this link, BionicWoman.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I am having an absolute blast over here and so is Mike. (Mike scored 1 on the Locus of Control test). I just took the Emotional Intelligence Test and it's another good one for members to take. (My score was 135 on that one).

    If anyone is craving a stimulating outlet during the day... these tests are something I will recommend.

    I am very glad to hear you are feeling a bit better.

    Take good care,

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    I did take the test. And scored a o. But in my defence. I thought some of the Questions could go either way and I had to keep going back to the directions. And in some Questions I really wished they had a third choice. Will I still be hung?.....
    Jim =)) That's not necessarily the way I feel, I just really like that little guy!!!
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
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