Sitting in Life’s Passenger Seat: New study looks into the many disadvantages of an external locus of control

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A recent study by PsychTests.com indicates that people who believe that they have no control over their life are more likely to be pessimistic, to have low self-esteem, and to lack resilience.

It’s time for people to learn to step into their power. Our fate, if fate even exists, is in our hands.

An external of locus of control is not only dispiriting, it’s also disempowering.

We always have the power of choice. This means that you can choose to continue to feel helpless, or you can choose to start taking charge.

Jackie Robinson didn’t watch baseball from the stands - he worked hard and tore down racial barriers to become the first African American baseball player in Major League Baseball. “Life,” Robinson expressed, “is not a spectator sport.” People who believe they have the power to change their life, to create their own destiny, have an “internal locus of control.” Those with an external orientation are more likely to feel like victims of fate, bad luck, other people, or other uncontrollable factors. They believe that no matter how hard they try, they will not succeed if society or the very universe is against them. As a study from PsychTests.com reveals, this type of outlook on life can be detrimental to a person’s happiness.

Analyzing data collected from 12,259 people who took the Emotional Intelligence Test, PsychTests’ researchers compared people with an external locus of control to those with an internal one. Here’s what the study revealed:

PEOPLE WITH AN EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE LOW SELF-ESTEEM AND POOR SELF-CONFIDENCE
> 51% don’t feel confident about decisions unless they are endorsed by other people (compared to 9% of people with an internal LOC).
> 51% don't know their strengths or what makes them special (compared to 5% of people with an internal LOC).
> 34% don't even bother to set goals because they don't believe they have the ability to achieve them (compared to 3% of people with an internal LOC).
> 39% believe they don't deserve the success they have attained (compared to 4% of people with an internal LOC).
> 77% frequently experience self-doubt (compared to 8% of people with an internal LOC).
> 63% are harshly self-critical when they make a mistake or fail (compared to 8% of people with an internal LOC).
> 39% back down from challenges (compared to 4% of people with an internal LOC).
> 56% change who they are - their values, beliefs, attitude, appearance, and behavior - in order to please other people (compared to 9% of people with an internal LOC).

PEOPLE WITH AN EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE PESSIMISTS AND CYNICS
> 68% won't allow themselves to get their hopes up so that they don't end up disappointed (compared to 16% of people with an internal LOC).
> 37% believe that the only way to get ahead is to “step on” (backstab or take advantage of) other people (compared to 14% of people with an internal LOC).
> 68% view their life as being just one problem after another (compared to 6% of people with an internal LOC).
> 75% overanalyze situations, creating problems that weren’t there before (compared to 27% of people with an internal LOC).
> 70% are terrified of the future (compared to 18% of people with an internal LOC).

PEOPLE WITH AN EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL TEND TO LACK RESILIENCE, SELF-CONTROL AND A SENSE OF PURPOSE
> 68% can’t figure out what they want out of life (compared to 6% of people with an internal LOC).
> 58% start projects or goals that they never finish (compared to 10% of people with an internal LOC).
> 64% struggle to bounce back from failure, rejection, or disappointment (compared to 8% of people with an internal LOC).
> 45% are currently undergoing therapy for depression, or suspect that they may be suffering from a depressive disorder (compared to 7% of people with an internal LOC).
> 49% are currently undergoing therapy for anxiety, or suspect that they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder (compared to 15% of people with an internal LOC).
> 50% have anger management issues (compared to 15% of people with an internal LOC).
> 62% get upset when even minor things go wrong in their life (compared to 6% of people with an internal LOC).

“It’s hard to go out and face the world when you feel like the world is against you - that’s what it’s like for people with an external locus of control,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “In extreme cases, this perspective can lead to a victim mentality. People with an external locus of control are persuaded that the state of their life and the circumstances that have led them here were not of their own doing, but the fault of other people or forces beyond their control. This is not the case, however. We always have the power of choice. This means that you can choose to continue to feel helpless, or you can choose to start taking charge. And the only way to regain a sense of control over your life is to stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility for yourself. You are only a victim if you continue to believe you are.”

“To start shifting to a more internal locus of control, be on the lookout for black & white thinking,” continues Dr. Jerabek. “Look out for thoughts such as, ‘I always lose the momentum to exercise,’ or ‘I will never get the job I want,’ or "Now that I’ve developed a health issue, it’s all downhill from here.” Recognize these thoughts for what they are: it’s your habitual way of thinking that has kept you stuck in a rut for so long. Stop it in its tracks. You can even personify this way of thinking as a little goblin trying to scare you. You can then tell your goblin, ‘Sorry, but I know what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work. You’re not going to sidetrack me. Get lost!’

Want to assess your EQ? Check out the Emotional Intelligence Test by visiting: https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3979

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com).

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D
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