More on Locus of control and Self-efficacy

How you look at situations may reinforce tendency/attitude. Moreover, it shapes the impact you really have by shaping your actions.

There are a whole host of factors influencing your attitude towards a particular situation, from broad cultural tendencies to particular cognitive biases. Reinforcement is one of these factors – it is what happens when you have a stimulus folowed by another with some frequency.

For instance, if you get praised when you get good grades, or if you lose every time you try to beat a game, or if you sometimes win a small lottery prize.

This is something that works on many levels; if you tend to talk in a certain manner – or hear a certain kind of comment – about a particular topic, those thoughts and feelings towards the topic are reinforced.

So what’s that got to do with Self-efficacy and Locus of control?

We’re surrounded by people who look at situations from a certain point of view, and react to them in a particular way. This gets under our skin and shapes the way we view who’s responsible for things and what things we could make happen.

The excercise I want to propose Today is different to the one in Yesterday’s Post in that it’s more related to meditation, as opposed to prediction.

Take a situation you hear people talking about in a way that shows an externalized locus of control and minimized self-efficacy, in particular a social situations, and try this thought experiment:

Think about a solution that could be implemented if everyone involved could be simultaneously, magically coordinated. Then think what would happen if only half the people involved could be magically coordinated – what kind of solution could work? Then think how that kind of effect – the effect the solutions would have – could get to just a small group of people.

Now, bring into perspective the size of impact that a single person could have. What would anyone need to have an impact? Change maybe a tiny sliver of the situation? Is this within your reach? What would be within your reach, and how much change would it be able to make?


If it is within your reach and doesn’t imply costs which you’re unwilling to sink into the situation for the impact you think you’ll have, make a prediction and give it a shot. Otherwise, you still will have a better picture by thinking in a different way about an issue, in particular when it’s something that “the government” is expected to fix – I’ve found that “the government” is a gateway to externalizing locus of control.

Let me know of your thought experiments, and if this makes you think differently – or not.

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