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Locus of evaluation

Locus of evaluation is a psychological concept that refers to the source of one’s self-worth and self-esteem. It can be either internal or external, depending on whether one relies on one’s own feelings and opinions or on the feedback and approval of others. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both types of locus of evaluation, and some strategies to develop a more balanced and healthy sense of self.

What is the locus of evaluation, and why is it important?

The locus of evaluation is the source of judgment or appraisal of a situation, action, or person. It can be internal or external, depending on whether the evaluation comes from within oneself or from outside influences. The locus of evaluation is important because it affects how we perceive ourselves and others, how we make decisions, and how we cope with challenges and feedback.

An internal locus of evaluation means that we rely on our own values, beliefs, and standards to assess ourselves and our environment. An external locus of evaluation means that we depend on others’ opinions, expectations, and norms to determine our worth and behaviour.

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Having an internal locus of evaluation is generally associated with higher self-esteem, autonomy, and motivation, while having an external locus of evaluation is often linked to lower self-confidence, conformity, and dependence. However, a balance between the two is also necessary, as we need to be aware of the social and ethical implications of our actions and adjust accordingly.

How does the locus of evaluation affect self-esteem, motivation and well-being?

The locus of evaluation has important implications for self-esteem, motivation and wellbeing. Research has shown that people with an internal locus of evaluation tend to have higher self-esteem, more intrinsic motivation and greater wellbeing than people with an external locus of evaluation. This is because people with an internal locus of evaluation are more likely to accept themselves as they are, pursue their own interests and goals, and cope with challenges and setbacks in a constructive way. On the other hand, people with an external locus of evaluation tend to have lower self-esteem, more extrinsic motivation and lower well-being than people with an internal locus of evaluation. This is because people with an external locus of evaluation are more likely to depend on the approval and validation of others, conform to external expectations and norms, and experience stress and anxiety when they fail to meet them.

Definition and characteristics of the internal locus of evaluation

The internal locus of evaluation is a psychological concept that refers to the degree to which a person relies on their own judgments and values to evaluate themselves and their actions. A person with a high internal locus of evaluation tends to base their self-esteem and self-worth on their own standards and criteria, rather than on external sources of approval or feedback. A person with a low internal locus of evaluation tends to seek validation and guidance from others, and may be more susceptible to social pressure and influence.

Some characteristics of internal locus of evaluation are:

  • Having a clear sense of one’s own identity and values
  • Being confident and assertive in expressing one’s opinions and preferences
  • Taking responsibility for one’s own choices and outcomes
  • Being self-motivated and self-directed in pursuing one’s goals
  • Being resilient and adaptable to changing circumstances
  • Being open to learning from one’s own experiences and mistakes
Advantages and disadvantages of the internal locus of evaluation

The internal locus of evaluation is a concept that was introduced by Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred counselling. It refers to the way we judge ourselves and the world based on something inside us, such as gut instinct, emotional response, or personal beliefs. People with an internal locus of evaluation are more sensitive to the needs of others and not concerned about changing their behaviour to gain approval from others. They trust their own instincts and use their organismic valuing process to make decisions.

The internal locus of evaluation has some advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages are:

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  • It can foster a sense of self-respect and personal worth, as people do not depend on external sources of validation or criticism.
  • It can enhance creativity and autonomy, as people are free to explore their own interests and potentials without being constrained by external expectations or norms.
  • Furthermore, it can facilitate growth and development, as people are more open to new experiences and feedback that can help them learn and improve.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  • It can lead to isolation and alienation, as people may feel misunderstood or rejected by others who do not share their values or perspectives.
  • It can cause conflict and misunderstanding, as people may have difficulties communicating or cooperating with others who have different opinions or goals.
  • Furthermore, it can result in self-deception or denial, as people may ignore or rationalize evidence that contradicts their beliefs or feelings.
Examples and strategies to develop an internal locus of evaluation

Some examples of having an internal locus of evaluation are:

  • Choosing a career path that aligns with one’s passion and interests, rather than following the expectations of parents or society.
  • Expressing one’s emotions honestly and respectfully, rather than suppressing or exaggerating them to please others or avoid conflict.
  • Taking responsibility for one’s actions and learning from mistakes, rather than blaming external factors or making excuses.
  • Seeking feedback and guidance from others when needed, but ultimately making one’s own decisions based on one’s own judgment.

Some strategies to develop an internal locus of evaluation are:

  • Practising self-awareness and self-reflection, by paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and reactions, and examining their sources and validity.
  • Challenging negative self-talk and limiting beliefs, by replacing them with positive affirmations and realistic appraisals.
  • Seeking out role models and mentors who have an internal locus of evaluation, and learning from their experiences and perspectives.
  • Engaging in activities that foster self-confidence and self-esteem, such as setting and achieving goals, learning new skills, or pursuing hobbies.
  • Seeking professional help from a counsellor or therapist, if needed, to address any underlying issues that may hinder one’s development of an internal locus of evaluation.
Definition and characteristics of external locus of evaluation

External locus of evaluation is a psychological term that refers to the tendency of some people to rely on external sources of feedback, such as praise, criticism, rewards or punishments, to determine their self-worth and behaviour. People with a high external locus of evaluation tend to seek approval from others and conform to social norms and expectations. They may also experience low self-esteem, anxiety and helplessness when they face negative or ambiguous feedback.

Some characteristics of external locus of evaluation are:

  • Being sensitive to the opinions and judgments of others
  • Having difficulty making decisions without consulting others
  • Feeling dependent on others for happiness and fulfilment
  • Being easily influenced by peer pressure or authority figures
  • Having a low sense of personal control over one’s life outcomes
  • Valuing extrinsic rewards more than intrinsic satisfaction
Advantages and disadvantages of an external locus of evaluation

An external locus of evaluation is a term used by Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred counselling, to describe the tendency of some people to rely on the opinions and values of others to make judgments about themselves, others and the world. This means that they do not trust their own instincts or feelings, but instead seek approval and validation from external sources, such as parents, friends, culture or authority figures.

There are some advantages and disadvantages of having an external locus of evaluation. Some possible advantages are:

  • It can help a person to conform to social norms and expectations, which may make them more acceptable and successful in certain situations or environments.
  • It can provide a sense of security and guidance, especially when a person is unsure or confused about their own identity or choices.
  • Also, it can motivate a person to improve themselves or achieve certain goals, if they value the feedback and rewards from others.

Some possible disadvantages are:

  • It can undermine a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, if they constantly doubt their own worth or abilities, or if they face criticism or rejection from others.
  • It can limit a person’s growth and development, if they do not explore their own interests, values and potential, or if they suppress their true feelings and needs.
  • Furthermore, it can cause a person to lose their sense of authenticity and autonomy, if they depend too much on others for their sense of self, or if they compromise their own integrity or happiness for pleasing others.
Examples and strategies to cope with an external locus of evaluation

An external locus of evaluation is a tendency to rely on external sources of feedback and approval, such as other people’s opinions, grades, or social status, to determine one’s self-worth and happiness. This can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and dissatisfaction with life. However, there are some examples and strategies to cope with an external locus of evaluation and develop a more internal one, which is based on one’s own values, goals, and standards. Some examples and strategies are:

  • Identify and challenge the negative beliefs that make you depend on external validation. For example, if you believe that you are not good enough unless you get a certain grade or achieve a certain rank, ask yourself where this belief comes from and how realistic it is. Is it based on facts or assumptions? How does it affect your well-being and motivation? What would happen if you did not meet this expectation? How can you reframe this belief in a more positive and realistic way?
  • Set your own goals and criteria for success based on what is important and meaningful to you, not what others expect or value. For example, if you enjoy writing poetry, don’t let the number of likes or comments on your posts determine your worth as a poet. Instead, focus on your own creative process, expression, and improvement. Celebrate your achievements and progress, no matter how big or small they are.
  • Seek feedback from people who care about you and respect your individuality, not from those who judge you or try to change you. For example, if you want to strengthen your public speaking skills, ask for constructive criticism from a trusted friend or mentor who knows your strengths and weaknesses, not from a random online forum where people may be rude or biased. Use the feedback to learn and grow, not to compare yourself or feel inadequate.
  • Practice gratitude and self-compassion. Recognize and appreciate the positive aspects of yourself and your life, such as your talents, skills, personality traits, relationships, hobbies, etc. Don’t take them for granted or overlook them because of external factors. Also, be kind and forgiving to yourself when you make mistakes or face challenges. Don’t beat yourself up or put yourself down because of what others may think or say. Remember that you are human and imperfect, just like everyone else.
  • Develop a sense of autonomy and agency. Take responsibility for your own choices and actions, and accept the consequences. Don’t let others make decisions for you or influence you in ways that go against your values or interests. Learn to say no when something does not feel right or beneficial to you. Also, take initiative and pursue opportunities that align with your goals and passions. Don’t wait for others to give you permission or approval to do what you want to do.
Further reading

If you are interested in learning more about the locus of evaluation and how it affects your self-concept, behaviour and well-being, here are some weblinks for further reading:

Carl Rogers – Locus of Evaluation • counselling Tutor

Basic Theory of the Person-Centred Approach – SAGE Publications Inc

counselling for Teachers, Pt.3 – Locus of Evaluation

A Focus on the Locus – Shropshire

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