Example and Hints

Psych3k Chapter 12, Assignment 2


Results of your Locus of Control (LC) and Attributional Style test
(This test yields one general score and four subscores.)

General LC score: 50 (possible range: 0 = for absolutely external LC, to 100 = for absolutely internal LC)
Your locus of control appears to be somewhere in the mid-range between internal and external orientation. In general, you probably feel that while you can very well control and influence many aspects of your life, there are things that just happen to you and that are outside of your personal control. People with more external LC tend to believe that their actions are results of environmental, external forces. As a consequence, an external LC might lead to a rather fatalistic and passive attitude toward life. Perceived lack of control over one's life might lower motivation, initiative and willingness to take risks. Under such circumstances, chance of success can be diminished. People with internal LC, on the other hand, interpret outcomes as results of one's own actions. They tend to take responsibility as well as credit for the results of their actions.  You seem to be balancing between the two. It is important to understand and accept one's own limits. It is equally important not to give up without doing one's best. Even though equilibrium is good in general, try to shift your locus of control further toward the internal side.

Success attributional style: Internal vs. External
Success attribution subscore: 50 (possible range: 0 = for external attribution of success, to 100 for internal attribution of success)
You have a mixed attributional style when it comes to success. Sometimes you interpret your success as a result of your skills, intelligence, nice personality etc. Other times, you attribute it to the external factors, such as luck, ease of task or other people's help. As a consequence, you don't always take the credit you deserve. Your self-esteem, motivation and general well-being would most likely be improved if you realized that you actively influence positive events in your life.

Success attributional style: Stable vs. Unstable forces
Success attribution subscore: 50 (possible range: 0 = attribution of success to unstable factors, to 100 = attribution of success to stable factor)
You seem to be somewhere in the mid-range of this dimension. At times, you attribute your success to unstable aspects (luck or effort), sometimes to stable characteristics (skills, intelligence, favorable environment). Interpreting success as a result of an effort will tend to improve your motivation. However, it's better for your self-esteem and motivation to attribute success to stable internal factors, such as abilities, nice personality etc.

Failure attributional style: Stable vs. Unstable forces!
Failure attribution subscore: 43 (possible range: 0 for attribution of failure to unstable factors, to 100 for attribution of failure to stable factor)
You seem to be somewhere in the middle of this dimension.

Failure attributional style: Internal vs. External
Failure attribution subscore: 50 (possible range: 0 for external attribution of failure, to 100 for internal attribution of failure)
You have a mixed attributional style when it comes to failure. Sometimes you interpret your failure as a result of lack of ability, insufficient effort etc. Other times, you attribute it to external factors, such as bad luck, task difficulty or discrimination. Attributing failure to external forces can be useful in terms of your self-confidence, provided that the external factors are perceived as controllable and changeable. However, if the external factors are perceived as a given, bred in the bones, and uncontrollable, external interpretation of failures can lead to frustration and resignation. When you attribute failure to unstable internal sources (e.g.. lack of effort) it can help you to mobilize your strengths and increase your motivation in future encounters with similar situations.  However, attributing failure to stable internal forces can be damaging to your self-esteem, perception of self-efficacy, and motivation.

My Analysis of the Results
I scored in the mid-range on all dimensions because I intentionally marked "Strongly Agree", "Most of the Time", or "Almost Always" on all 42 items.  I intentionally "faked" average on all dimensions, for purposes of illustration.  As a result, I appear to be rather wishy-washy.  In more polite terms, I have a very "mixed attributional style".  This does not match my real life experience very closely.

In real life, I am a very strong "Internalizer" overall, in failure, and in success.  And, I generally tend to see stable forces as the cause of both my successes and failures.  In other words, I tend to blame myself when I mess up, and to credit myself for my successes, citing my hard work (or lack thereof), my intelligence (or stupidity), etc.

My true score on this test very accurately reflects both my Locus of Control and my Attributional Style.

Both the problems and the advantages of each of the attributional styles mentioned in the analysis are very consistent with my experience.  I tend to berate myself strongly when I fail.  Although my self-esteem is (appropriately, I believe) quite high, anyone who heard me cussing myself out when I mess up would certainly think that I have severe self-esteem problems.  (This has actually happened more than a few times.)  My perceived control over my life probably accounts for why I keep trying new things.  And why, when I fail, I am more likely to redouble my efforts and perhaps to try to develop new skills, than to give up and quit.

Jerabek, I. (1996). Locus of Control and Attributional Style Inventory. Body-Mind QueenDom.  Retrieved April 30, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.queendom.com/tests/personality/lc.html


The purpose of this assignment is to allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the concept and the measurement of Locus of Control and Attribution Styles, using appropriate terminology.

I chose this particular concept (and test) for you to explore because I consider it one of the most powerful explanatory concepts in psychology today.  One day, when I have a little time on my hands, I will write up a more complete explanation of why I make that statement, but for now I'll settle for the short version.

The "Externalizer" is less likely to see the help of mental health professionals when he experiences psychological distress, because he sees his distress as being caused by factors outside himself.  He does not need to be "fixed", nothing is wrong with him.  The "Internalizer" is probably more likely to seek professional help when it is needed because he is more likely to attribute his problems to inadequacies in himself or in his personality.

You are not likely to find many entrepreneurs who are "Externalizers".  "Externalizers" are not likely to take the chances necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.  It is not that they cannot be successful.  It is just that they are likely to work for someone else, rather than become an entrepreneur.

Students who are "Internalizers" are more likely to change their study efforts when they do poorly on an exam than are "Externalizers".

I'll bet that you will find that "Internalizers" are more likely to attempt suicide, while "Externalizers" are more likely to "go Postal".

Of course, when you add the Stable/Unstable dimension, things become a bit more complicated but the predictions become even more accurate.

A challenge:  Consider the cases of the recent school shootings in California and Pennsylvania.  Based on your understanding of Locus of Control and Attributional Style, what scores do you think the shooters would get?  How would those scores "predict" their behavior?  5 points Extra Credit

In your report:
Report your scores and the analysis provided.  (Do it the easy way, copy and paste from the web site.)
Discuss whether your experiences in life tend to be consistent or inconsistent with the scores you got.
Also, indicate whether the consequences of the different styles are consistent with what has happened in your life.
Try to find, and discuss, any information that indicates anything about the validity and reliability (Review Chapter 1, pages 54 and 55) of this test.  If you cannot find any such information, use your best judgment to determine how that test might fare.
Use "proper" terminology throughout.