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Locus and Spheres of Control


Locus of control is a concept in psychology that refers to the extent that individuals believe they can control the events that affect their lives. People with an internal locus of control tend to believe that they are in control of their lives and their outcomes, while people with an external locus of control tend to believe that outside forces, such as luck or other people's actions, control their lives.

Spheres of control and concern are related ideas that refer to the areas of life that you can directly control or influence. The sphere of control refers to the things that you have direct control over, such as your thoughts, actions, and behaviours. The sphere of concern refers to the things that you care about, but that you may not be able to control, such as the actions of others, world events, or natural disasters.

An example of how this can affect your life:

Imagine you are a college student studying for an exam. If you have an internal locus of control, you may believe that your performance on the exam is largely dependent on your own efforts and abilities, and that you have control over the outcome. As a result, you may spend more time studying and preparing for the exam and feel more confident and motivated.

On the other hand, if you have an external locus of control, you may believe that your performance on the exam is largely dependent on external factors, such as luck or the difficulty of the exam. As a result, you may feel less motivated to study and may be more likely to procrastinate.

In terms of spheres of control and concern, imagine that you are concerned about the environment and want to reduce your carbon footprint. In this case, your sphere of control might include actions such as reducing your energy use, recycling, and using public transportation. Your sphere of concern might include larger global issues such as climate change and pollution, which are beyond your direct control.

By understanding the locus of control, spheres of control, and sphere of concern, you can gain greater insight into your beliefs and attitudes about yourself and your environment. This can help you make more informed decisions, set more realistic goals, and develop greater resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges.


A helpful way to think about these two general ideas is to layer the sphere of control inside a larger sphere of concern. There are only so many things you can control - there are more things you can influence, and there are more still, things you can neither control nor influence. For this one, think about a few things inside your control, and things outside of your control. The next time you feel bad about something happening, think about whether the outcome was in your control, influence, or neither. For the locus of control - it’s as simple as first identifying things that are in your control, and then keeping yourself in charge as the accountable party to make sure that it’s a success. If you have an exam coming up - how well you do is absolutely within your control.


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