Julian Rotter - Locus Of Control
Is your life about down to luck? Or do you make your own luck? These questions were at the heart of ground-breaking personality research by psychologist Julian Rotter. Claudia Hammond meets him.
When, as a psychology student, Claudia Hammond read about Locus of Control in Julian Rotter's Social Learning Theory she assumed its author, like most great Mind Changers, was no longer alive. Twenty years later she met him in his home near the University of Connecticut. He was happy to reflect on his career.
In 1966 Rotter published his famous IE scale. This measured whether the subject had an Internal Locus of Control - believing that they could affect the course of their life, that their choices would have an impact on what happened to them - or an External Locus of Control, in which case their life was guided by luck or fate and they themselves had little power to change things. The test has been developed in many ways since then, but it is still widely used today and the notion of Locus of Control has been particularly influential in healthcare.
Julian Rotter himself was one of the first clinical psychologists ever to be trained in the United States and was to be extremely influential in training those who followed. He was proponent of the scientist-practitioner model and he worked hard to ensure that clinical psychology became a research-based discipline. He was largely responsible for bringing personality theory into the clinical arena.