Thinking on Internal Locus of Control

Julian B. Rotter (1966), a world-renowned psychologist, has realised some studies about personality focusing on sense of control over events. He referred of this dimension of personality as ‘locus of control’ and has defined two kind of people, people with ‘external locus of control’, who believe that events are down to fate and believe that external influences are responsable for the results, and people with ‘internal locus of control’, who believe that they are in control of events and believe they are responsable for the results.

The studies of Spector (1982) shows that the performance of a person depends of his ‘locus of control’. Workers with ‘internal locus of control’ are more successful than their ‘external’ counterparts. But, don’t think that it’s a cause and effect correlation, because people may come to develop an ‘internal locus of control’ following success and not just success be a direct result of a person with ‘internal locus of control’.

Agree with Spector (1982) is easy because ‘internal locus of control’ workes believe that the results of their works a their own responsability, so we can expect more efforts from them than from ‘external locus of control’ workers. Lied and Pritchard (1976) sad exactly that in two main expectancies of people with ‘internal locus control’:

  1. they expect effort will result in better performance
  2. they expect good performance will ultimately lead to rewards.

Why I’m telling it? Because you should design your applications thinking on support this expectancies of people with ‘internal locus control’. Give freedom and control of all for your users, because this kind of person believe it is in control of all events and it likes freedom and control. Give to the user the ability of do, redo and undo things. Allow the users to terminate this action or cancel it to do another thing, in other words, allow them to control everything. How much more effort an user do in your application,  better performance they must to feel and more reward they must to receive.


Interaction Desgin Foundation – UI Design Patterns for Successful Software  (

by Anastassia Elias / from

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