Choice or Chance (2016)

Choice or Chance is about Locus of Control, a notion I was introduced to in CPE. According to Nowicki, Locus of Control (LOC) “reflects how we have learned to perceive what happens to us. The more we have learned to expect connections between our actions and outcomes, the more Internal we are; the less we expect such links, the more External we are. If we are more Internal, we tend to view ourselves as able to influence the course of our lives; if we are more External, we tend to view our lives as governed by forces beyond our control” (20–21).

Internality results in the Big Five: taking responsibility, being persistent, delaying gratification, gathering information, and resisting coercion (22–23).

The situation is then presented as to how America has become more and more External, and an extended argument is made for moving toward Internality, including startling research on how parents’ Externality influences children’s development.

Five suggestions are made for increasing one’s Internality (226–230):

  1. Generate choices: reflect on events and discern how actions might have influenced the outcomes
  2. Set sensible goals: realistic goal-setting allows us to move into more Internal states of mind
  3. Speak Internally to ourselves, then to others: “Externals spend too much of their time talking themselves into failure” (227); positive self-speak can help us feel empowered to act in the moment
  4. Write in a journal: writing about anxiety-ridden events can produce the ability to calmly act during similar situations in the future
  5. Evaluate: practices like examen can help us see where we act and where we don’t act; these should be written down for reflection

These five things are summarized as AGREE (230–231).


And some advice is given for motivating Externals to become more Internal: use structure, use cooperation not competition, use extrinsic rewards, and use social cues and personal contact (232–236).

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