Locus of Control and Social Behaviour

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Imagine, you just recently came down with a cold and you are feeling really sick. How did you end up getting sick in the first place, was it just due to random chance, or was it because you were stressed and not watching your health? According to Julian Rotter’s social learning theory, the two different mentalities people have about how much influence they themselves have on their life events can be categorized into two different groups. Those with internal control believe that they have control over their own behaviour and the subsequent outcomes. Conversely, those with external control more often tend to believe that outcomes are beyond their control. The locus control concept of internal versus external control can be used to understand the expectations people develop about many life events in relation to the motivations for social behaviour. With regards to social behaviours, this concept helps us understand both general and specific behaviours in children and adults alike. It is also used to gain insight into family dynamics, developmental processes, gender differences, mental disorders, and possible treatments. One of the main features of Rotter’s social learning theory is that it provides formulas that can be employed to predict human behaviour in social environments in terms of expectations. His theory is considered both a process theory and a content theory in that it describes both the structural components of mental processes (the what), and the mechanisms the structural components undergo for some given input (the how) to produce human behaviour. Rotter provides two different formulas to help explain behaviour based on needs and reinforcement expectations. The former is represented by the equation NP = f (FM & NV), ... ... middle of paper ... ...ouglas P. (2009). Module 13. Part 1: John Dollard and Neal Miller; R.F. Skinner [lecture notes]. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo. Crowne, Douglas P. (2009). Personality Theory. 2nd Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Pg. 404-494. Gale Research (2001). "Locus of Control”. Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence. Accessed at <> on Apr 02 2010. Means, Jack. (2009). The Social Learning Theory of Julian B. Rotter. Accessed at <> on April 1 2010. Neill, James (2006). What is Locus of Control?. Accessed at <> on April 1 2010. Rotter, J. (1966). Generalized Expectancies for Internal versus External Control of Reinforcements. Psychological Monographs, 80, Whole No. 609.

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