Locus of control

“Locus of control” is basically a scientific measure of whether or not you believe in The Secret.

People who have an internal locus of control think they are masters of their own destiny. If you set your mind to it, you can do anything. It’s not quite the same thing as “belief in a just universe,” but it’s close.

People who have an external locus of control think their lives are driven mostly by random, external events. You’re either in the right place at the right time or you aren’t.

You can fill out a 13-item questionnaire here. I scored 9 out of 13, which falls on the “external” end of the scale. I am admittedly biased, but this seems to me a perfectly reasonable point of view. And practical. It must be exhausting to think your future hangs in the balance of every action you take.

But apparently we of the external loci are more likely to be unhappy, depressed, and stressed.’s resident expert on stress suggests I should develop an internal locus of control to be happier.

I disagree. Besides being an apparent outlier in the data for being happy, I think that strategy might be putting the horse before the cart. I haven’t done any serious googlings, but it seems more likely to me that an external locus of control could be a coping mechanism for unhappy, depressed, and stressed people. First you lose your job, then you attribute it to outside forces. You didn’t lose your job because you were resigned to fate.

Am I out of line here?

(photo credit)


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