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locus of control

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A cognitive style or personality trait characterized by a generalized expectancy about the relationship between behaviour and the subsequent occurrence of reinforcement (1) in the form of reward and punishment. People with internal locus of control tend to expect reinforcements (1) to be the consequences of their own efforts or behaviour, whereas people with external locus of control expect them to be the consequences of chance, luck, fate, or the actions of powerful others. Between these two extremes lies a continuum of intermediate cognitive styles. The concept was introduced by the US psychologist E. Jerry Phares (1928–2007) and first published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in 1957. In an article in the journal Psychological Monographs in 1966, the US psychologist Julian B(ernard) Rotter (born 1916) introduced the internal-external scale to measure it. Also called internal-external control of reinforcement. See also social learning.

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