Internal-External Locus of Control Scale

Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Mono- graphs: General and Applied 80 (Whole No. 609).

Comments: The 29-item Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (I-E Scale) assesses “generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement.” Item analysis, factor analysis, and reliability tests demonstrate the internal consistency of the scale. The I-E Scale has been used to develop validate other instruments. It is one of the most frequently used instruments to measure locus of control.

Scale Construction: The original I-E scale contained 100 forced-choice items, each one comparing an external belief with an internal one. Based upon item analysis and factor analysis, the revised scale contained 60 items. Item correlations with the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, validity data from two studies, and reliability data resulted in reducing the scale to 23 items. The final version of the scale contains 23 forced-choice items plus six filler items. Sample: Biserial item correlations are reported for a sample of 200 men and 200 women enrolled in psychology courses at Ohio State University. In addition to students at Ohio State, other samples consisted of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders,

a national stratified sample, prisoners at the Colorado Reformatory, elementary psychology students at Kansas State University, and Ohio Federal prisoners.

Reliability: The KR20 reliability coefficient was 0.70 for the sample of 200 men and 200 women. Test-retest reliability after one month was 0.72 and after two months was 0.55. Reliability data are provided for all of the samples.

Validity: Discriminant validity is supported by the low correlations with intelligence, social desirability, and political liberalness. Evidence of construct validity is found in the predicted differences in behavior for people above and below the median of the I-E Scale and from correlations with behavioral criteria. Numerous studies are discussed to support construct validity.

Factor Analysis: The two factor analyses that were performed support the unidimensionality of the scale.

Data Analysis: Biserial item correlations of each item with total score, excluding that item are presented. Means and standard deviations for various samples are also provided.


Bevis, K. A. (2008). Teacher burnout: Locus of control and its correlation to teacher burnout and job satisfaction. EdS dissertation, Marshall University.

DeAndrade, Y. (2009). The relationship of intentional learning, locus of control, and self-efficacy among online and on-ground college students. DMgt dissertation, Webster University.

Nufer, S. (2012). The effects of locus of control and leader-member exchange as predictors of stress and burnout in the workplace. PsyD dissertation, Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Traub, E. PsyD (2010). The effect of internet usage on social alienation and locus of control. PsyD dissertation, University of the Rockies.

Zimmerman, M.T. (2010). Examination of locus of control, health locus of control and their key predictors in urban vs. rural populations. EdD dissertation, University of Memphis.

Internal-External Locus of Control Scale

1. a. Children get into trouble because their parents punish them too much.
b. The trouble with most children nowadays is that their parents are too easy with them.
2. a. Many of the unhappy things in people’s lives are partly due to bad luck.
b. People’s misfortunes result from the mistakes they make.
3. a. One of the major reasons why we have wars is because people don’t take enough interest in politics.
b. There will always be wars, no matter how hard people try to prevent them.
4. a. In the long run people get the respect they deserve in this world.
b. Unfortunately, an individual’s worth often passes unrecognized no matter how hard he tries.
5. a. The idea that teachers are unfair to students is nonsense.
b. Most students don’t realize the extent to which their grades are influenced by accidental happenings.
6. a. Without the right breaks one cannot be an effective leader.
b. Capable people who fail to become leaders have not taken advantage of their opportunities.
7. a. No matter how hard you try some people just don’t like you.
b. People who can’t get others to like them don’t understand how to get along with others.
8. a. Heredity plays the major role in determining one’s personality.
b. It is one’s experiences in life which determine what they’re like.
9. a. I have often found that what is going to happen will happen.
b. Trusting to fate has never turned out as well for me as making a decision to take a definite course of action.
10. a. In the case of the well-prepared student there is rarely if ever such a thing as an unfair test.
b. Many times exam questions tend to be so unrelated to course work that studying is really useless.
11. a. Becoming a success is a matter of hard work; luck has little or nothing to do with it.
b. Getting a good job depends mainly on being in the right place at the right time.
12. a. The average citizen can have an influence in government decisions.
b. This world is run by the few people in power, and there is not much the little guy can do about it.
13. a. When I make plans, I am almost certain that I can make them work.
b. It is not always wise to plan too far ahead because many things turn out to be a matter of good or bad fortune anyhow.

14. a. There are certain people who are just no good.
b. There is some good in everybody.
15. a. In my case getting what I want has little or nothing to do with luck.
b. Many times we might just as well decide what to do by flipping a coin.
16. a. Who gets to be the boss often depends on who was lucky enough to be in the right place first.
b. Getting people to do the right thing depends upon ability, luck has little or nothing to do with it.
17. a. As far as world affairs are concerned, most of us are the victims of forces we can neither understand nor control.
b. By taking an active part in political and social affairs, the people can control world events.
18. a. Most people don’t realize the extent to which their lives are controlled by accidental happenings.
b. There really is no such thing as “luck.”
19. a. One should always be willing to admit mistakes.
b. It is usually best to cover up one’s mistakes.
20. a. It is hard to know whether or not a person really likes you.
b. How many friends you have depends on how nice a person you are.
21. a. In the long run the bad things that happen to us are balanced by the good ones.
b. Most misfortunes are the result of lack of ability, ignorance, laziness, or all three.
22. a. With enough effort we can wipe out political corruption.
b. It is difficult for people to have much control over the things politicians do in office.
23. a. Sometimes I can’t understand how teachers arrive at the grades they give.
b. There is a direct connection between how hard I study and the grades I get.
24. a. A good leader expects people to decide for themselves what they should do.
b. A good leader makes it clear to everybody what their jobs are.
25. a. Many times I feel that I have little influence over the things that happen to me.
b. It is impossible for me to believe that chance or luck plays an important role in my life.
26. a. People are lonely because they don’t try to be friendly.
b. There’s not much use in trying too hard to please people, if they like you, they like you.
27. a. There is too much emphasis on athletics in high school.
b. Team sports are an excellent way to build character.
28. a. What happens to me is my own doing.
b. Sometimes I feel that I don’t have enough control over the direction my life is taking.
29. a. Most of the time I can’t understand why politicians behave the way they do.
b. In the long run the people are responsible for bad government on a national as well as on a local level.

Scoring: A forced-choice format is used. The total score is calculated by adding the number of external beliefs selected (2a, 3b, 4b, 5b, 6a, 7a, 9a, 10b, 11b, 12b, 13b, 15b, 16a, 17a, 18a, 20a, 21a, 22b, 23a, 25a, 26b, 28b, and 29a).