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Chapter 10

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

CHAPTER 10 Cognitive Foundations of Personality The possibility of changing peoples thoughts was tested in an experiment conducted by Seligman and his colleagues Seligman Steen ParkPeterson 2005Randomly assigned volunteers to 1 of 5 treatmentsDespite being somewhat depressed at the start of the study participants who thought about the good things that happened to them and why they happened and participants who developed one of their character strengths by using in a new way showed decreases in symptoms of depressionincreases in felt happiness over the course of the experimentMany psychologists have identified consistentspecific differences between people in the way they perceivethink about the worldThose who are field dependent tend to see the big picture rather than detailsPeople who are fieldindependent rely on their own physical sensationshave selective attention to a particular object without being distracted by surrounding detailsLOCUS OF CONTROLJulian Rotter was the first to define locus of control as peoples beliefs about the control of reinforcementsoutcomes in their livesPeople who believe that they have some control over what happens to them have an internal locus of controlPeople with an external locus of control believe that they have little control over what happens to theminstead believe that reinforcements or outcomes are due to chance luck fate powerful others or unpredictablepeople develop these expectations from their experiences Actions rewardeddevelopment of internal locus of controlActions not rewardeddevelopment of external locus of controlInternalsExternals process information differentlyInternalspay more attention to information that may be useful to them laterthey also retain more information than externalsoAct as if knowing more about ones conditionsituation is an important step toward changing ones circumstancesMeasures of Locus of ControlLocus of control is often measured with the InternalExternal Locus of Control ScaleRespondents are presented with 29 pairs of statements ELC or ILC statement in a forcedchoice format6 of the pairs are fillers not scoredScores range from 0 to 23Higher scores indicate an external locus of controlNumerous studies have been done on locus of control which suggests that more positive outcomes in achievement work healthrelationships are associated with having an internal locus of controlManybut not allimportant life outcomes are related to an internal locus of controlLocus of ControlAchievementInternals take more action than externalsInternals are better at planningworking at longterm goals1Internals assume more responsibility for themselveshold others to high standards of responsibility as wellInternals also have higher incomemore financial knowledge than externalsare more highly educatedLocus of ControlWork BehaviorBased on a metaanalysis of 222 studies workers with an internal locus of control showed greater job satisfaction with their pay promotions coworkerssupervisors than did workers with an external locus of controlCollege students with an internal locus of control show better career decisionmaking skillsInternals are particularly sensitive to pay incentiveswork particularly well under incentive systems such as sales or pieceworkBusiness owners who were more internal coped better with a devastating hurricaneflood that hit central Pennsylvania in June of 1972 damaging some 430 businesses in the areaThey were able to bring their business back to their preflood levels of performance 312 years laterLocus of ControlPhysicalPsychological HealthThe belief that they can control what happens to them combined with a greater willingness to take action contributes to the overall better physicalmental health of people with an internal locus of controlInternals are also more likely than externals to wear seatbelts exercise keep track of their medicationstake steps to reduce their risk of breast cancerExternals are more vulnerable to anxietydepressionare less able to cope with stressful life experiencesEg Imagine living in Israel during the Persian Gulf War when civilians faced nightly SCUD missile attacks for 5 weeks Internals reported fewer physical symptoms loss of appetite less fearbetter cognitive functioning Locus of Control Social Behavior People who believe that their social relationships are establishedmaintained as a result of their own efforts are more socially skillfulshow greater social sensitivity than people without these beliefsExternals are more vulnerable to persuasion social influenceconformity pressuresExternals pay more attention to the social demands of a situation whereas Internals pay more attention to the task demands of a situationCultural differences in Locus of ControlBelieving one has control or not seems to be a human universal in that the basic differences between internalsexternals hold across a variety of culturesIndividualistic cultures tend to be so internal that they are actually vulnerable to an illusion of control where people believe they have control even in situations where objectively they do notCollectivistic cultures tend to be more externalJohn Weiszhis colleagues suggested that there are two ways of taking control1st people can exercise primary controlattempt to make themselves feel better or less distressed by changing circumstances one must have an ILC 2
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