Locus of Control

The locus of control is the extent to which individuals believe they can control events affecting them. Those with an internal locus of control believe they can control their own lives and they are responsible for their own success. In effect, they are “the captain of their own fate.” People with an external locus believe that external events, out of their control, tend to effect their lives. Those with an external locus of control tend to believe in things like luck and/or fate.

Have you ever thought about where your locus of control lies? It really can effect the choices you make and the perspective you have. It shouldn’t surprise you that the classic American locus of control has been internal. The culture I grew up in was much more external. Communities bond together to help each other through the ups and downs of life.

Whether your character has an internal or external locus of control will help determine how your character responds to failure, to waiting, to disaster, and to chaos. Is your character a fatalist? Or is she a fiercely independent woman, who thinks everything is either her fault or her well-earned victory?

Think of Ahab from Moby Dick. He was the ultimate fatalist. He could not turn back and save his crew because he believed he had no choice but to live the life prescribed to him. And then there’s Jim Kirk from “Star Trek,” who thinks he can do whatever he wants. He thinks the world revolves around him and it is his responsibility to bless the world with his success.

Interesting, isn’t it? But that immediately makes me wonder about my characters, especially Logan and Druce.

I think Logan tends toward an external locus. Part of the reason she can persevere through so much hardship is because she believes it is her “fate.” She doesn’t believe in avoiding problems as much as she believes in responding to them correctly. Druce, on the other hand, is much more action oriented. He grows frustrated when he feels like he cannot shape the situation. Those are my thoughts, anyway.

Although some might argue that as much as external forces have shaped her life without her consent, she maintains an internal locus–making her own decisions. I guess I’m a little divided on the issue. She’s certainly not ambitious. She makes the best of cards dealt to her. Perhaps she falls squarely in the middle. When she tends toward fatalism, Druce pulls her out and reminds her that she can make her own choices.

Of course, very few people are strict fatalists. I think most people strike a balance between them, depending on culture and upbringing. It’s an interesting question.

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