The General Causality Orientations Scale (GCOS)

The Scale (17-vignette version)
On these pages you will find a series of vignettes. Each one describes an incident and lists three ways of responding to it. Please read each vignette and then consider the responses in turn. Think of each response option in terms of how likely it is that you would respond in that way. We all respond in a variety of ways to situations‚ and probably each response is at least slightly likely for you. If it is very unlikely that you would respond in the way described in a given response‚ you would se‎lect numbers 1 or 2. If it is moderately likely‚ you would respond in the midrange of numbers; and if it is very likely that you would respond as described‚ you would se‎lect the 6 or 7. Please se‎lect one number for each of the three responses on the answer sheet for each vignette. The actual items begin on the next page.
 
1. You have been offered a new position in a company where you have worked for some time. The first question that is likely to come to mind is:
a) What if I can’t live up to the new responsibility?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Will I make more at this position?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) I wonder if the new work will be interesting.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
2. You had a job interview several weeks ago. In the mail you received a form letter which states that the position has been filled. It is likely that you might think:
a) It’s not what you know‚ but who you know.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) I’m probably not good enough for the job.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Somehow they didn’t see my qualifications as matching their needs.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
3. You are a plant supervisor and have been ch‎arged with the task of allotting coffee breaks to three workers who cannot all break at once. You would likely handle this by:
a) Telling the three workers the situation and ha‎ving them work with you on the schedule.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Simply assigning times that each can break to avoid any problems.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Find out from someone in authority what to do or do what was done in the past.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
4. You have just received the results of a test you took‚ and you discovered that you did very poorly. Your initial reaction is likely to be:
a) “I can’t do anything right‚” and feel sad.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) “I wonder how it is I did so poorly‚” and feel disappointed.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) “That stupid test doesn’t show anything‚” and feel angry.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
5. When you and your friend are making plans for Saturday evening‚ it is likely that you would:
a) Leave it up to your friend; he (she) probably wouldn’t want to do what you’d suggest.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Each make suggestions and then decide together on something that you both feel like doing.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Talk your friend into doing what you want to do.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
6. You have been invited to a large party where you know very few people. As you look forward to the evening‚ you would likely expect that:
a) You’ll try to fit in with whatever is happening in order to have a good time and not look bad.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) You’ll find some people with whom you can relate.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) You’ll probably feel somewhat isolated and unnoticed.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
7. You are asked to plan a picnic for yourself and your fellow employees. Your style for approaching this project could most likely be ch‎aracterized as:
a) Take ch‎arge: that is‚ you would make most of the major decisions yourself.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Follow precedent: you’re not really up to the task so you’d do it the way it’s been done before.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Seek participation: get inputs from others who want to make them before you make the final plans.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
8. Recently a position opened up at your place of work that could have meant a promotion for you. However‚ a person you work with was offered the job rather than you. In evaluating the situation‚ you’re likely to think:
a) You didn’t really expect the job; you frequently get passed over.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) The other person probably “did the right things” politically to get the job.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) You would probably take a look at factors in your own performance that led you to be passed over.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
9 . You are embarking on a new career. The most important consideration is likely to be:
a) Whether you can do the work without getting in over your head.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) How interested you are in that kind of work.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Whether there are good possibilities for advancement.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
10. A woman who works for you has generally done an adequate job. However‚ for the past two weeks her work has not been up to par and she appears to be less actively interested in her work. Your reaction is likely to be:
a) Tell her that her work is below what is expected and that she should start working harder.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Ask her about the problem and let her know you are available to help work it out.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) It’s hard to know what to do to get her straightened out.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
11. Your company has promoted you to a position in a city far from your present location. As you think about the move you would probably:
a) Feel interested in the new challenge and a little nervous at the same time.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Feel excited about the higher status and salary that is involved.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Feel stressed and anxious about the upcoming changes.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
12. Within your circle of friends‚ the one with whom you choose to spend the most time is:
a) The one with whom you spend the most time exchanging ideas and feelings.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) The one who is the most popular of them.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) The one who needs you the most as a friend.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
13. You have a school-age daughter. On parents’ night the teacher tells you that your daughter is doing poorly and doesn’t seem involved in the work. You are likely to:
a) Talk it over with your daughter to understand further what the problem is.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Scold her and hope she does better.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Make sure she does the assignments‚ because she should be working harder.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
14. Your friend has a habit that annoys you to the point of making you angry. It is likely that you would:
a) Point it out each time you notice it‚ that way maybe he(she) will stop doing it.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Try to ignore the habit because talking about it won’t do any good anyway.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Try to understand why your partner does it and why it is so upsetting for you.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
15. A close (same-sex) friend of yours has been moody lately‚ and a couple of times has become very angry with you over “nothing.” You might:
a) Share your observations with him/her and try to find out what is going on for him/her.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Ignore it because there’s not much you can do about it anyway.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Tell him/her that you’re willing to spend time together if and only if he/she makes more effort to control him/herself.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
16. Your friend’s younger sister is a freshman in college. Your friend tells you that she has been doing badly and asks you what he (she) should do about it. You advise him (her) to:
a) Talk it over with her and try to see what is going on for her.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Not mention it; there’s nothing he (she) could do about it anyway.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Tell her it’s important for her to do well‚ so she should be working harder.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
 
17. You feel that your friend is being inconsiderate. You would probably:
a) Find an opportunity to explain why it bothers you; he (she) may not even realize how much it is bothering you.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
b) Say nothing; if your friend really cares about you he (she) would understand how you fell.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
c) Demand that your friend start being more considerate; otherwise you’ll respond in kind.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
very unlikely
moderately likely
very likely
http://selfdeterminationtheory.org
 
Studies that Used the GCOS
Validation Article
Deci‚ E. L.‚ & Ryan‚ R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in
personality. Journal of Research in Personality‚ 19‚ 109-134.
Validation Article for the French Version
(the French version is available from Robert J. Vallerand: [email protected])
Vallerand‚ R.J.‚ Blais‚ M.R.‚ Lacouture‚ Y.‚ & Deci‚ E.L. (1987). L’echelle des orientations generales a la
causalite: Validation canadienne francaise du General Causality Orientations Scale. Canadian Journal of
Behavioral Science‚ 19‚ 1-15.
Other Articles
Amabile‚ T. M.‚ Hill‚ K. G.‚ Hennessey‚ B. A.‚ & Tighe‚ E. M. (1994). The Work Preference Inventory:
Assessing intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 66
950-967.
Anderson‚ S.‚ Nero‚ F.‚ Rodin‚ J.‚ Diamond‚ M.‚ et al. (1989). Coping patterns of in vitro fertilization
nurse coordinators: Strategies for combating low outcome effectance. Psychology and Health‚ 3‚ 221-232.
Black‚ A. E.‚ & Deci‚ E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’
autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science
Education‚ 84‚ 740-756.
Blustein‚ D. L. (1988). The relation between motivational processes and career exploration. Journal of
Vocational Behavior‚ 32‚ 345-357.
Farmer‚ R.‚ & Sudberg‚ N. D. (1986). Boredom proneness: The development and correlates of a new
scale. Journal of Personality Assessment‚ 50‚ 4-17.
Hodgins‚ H. S.‚ Koestner‚ R.‚ & Duncan‚ N. (1996). On the compatibility of autonomy and relatedness.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin‚ 22‚ 227-237.
Hodgins‚ H. S. & Liebeskind‚ E. (in press). Apology versus defense: Antecedents and consequences.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Hodgins‚ H. S.‚ Liebeskind‚ E.‚ & Schwartz‚ W. (1996). Getting out of hot water: Facework in social
predicaments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 71‚ 300-314.
Isaac‚ J. D.‚ Sansone‚ C.‚ & Smith‚ J. L. (1999). Other people as a source of interest in an activity.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology‚ 35‚ 239-265.
Kasser‚ T.‚ & Ryan‚ R. M. (1993). A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as
a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 65‚ 410-422.
Kernis‚ M.H. (1982). Motivational orientations‚ anger‚ and aggression in males. Unpublished doctoral
dissertation‚ University of Rochester.
King‚ K.B. (1984). Coping with cardiac surgery. Unpublished doctoral dissertation‚ University of
Rochester.
Knee‚ C. R.‚ Neighbors‚ C.‚ & Vietor‚ N. (in press). Self-determination theory as a framework for
understanding road rage. Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
Knee‚ C. R.‚ & Zuckerman‚ M. (1996). Causality orientations and the disappearance of the self-serving
bias. Journal of Research in Personality‚ 30‚ 76-87.
Knee‚ C. R.‚ & Zuckerman‚ M. (1998). A nondefensive personality: Autonomy and control as moderators
of defensive coping and self-handicapping. Journal of Research in Personality 32‚ 115-130.
Koestner‚ R. (1986). Praise‚ involvement and intrinsic motivation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation‚
University of Rochester.
Koestner‚ R.‚ Bernieri‚ F.‚ & Zuckerman‚ M. (1992). Self-regulation and consistency between attitudes‚
traits‚ and behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin‚ 18‚ 52-59.
Koestner‚ R.‚ & Losier‚ G. F. (1996). Distinguishing reactive versus reflective autonomy‚ Journal of
Personality‚ 64‚ 465-494.
Koestner‚ R.‚ Gingras‚ I.‚ Abutaa‚ R‚ Losier‚ G‚ DiDio‚ L.‚ & Gagné‚ M. (1999). To follow expert advice
when making a decision: An examination of reactive vs reflective autonomy. Journal of Personality‚ 67
851-872.
Koestner‚ R.‚ & Zuckerman‚ M. (1994). Causality orientations‚ failure‚ and achievement. Journal of
Personality‚ 62‚ 321-346.
Robbins‚ R. M. (1995). Parental autonomy support vs. control: Child and parent correlates‚ and
assessment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation‚ University of Rochester.
Scherhorn‚ G. (1990). The addictive trait in buying behaviour. Journal of Consumer Policy‚ 13‚ 33-51.
Scherhorn‚ G.‚ & Grunert‚ S. C. (1988‚ September). Using the causality orientations concept in consumer
behaviour research. Paper presented at the 13th Annual Colloquium of the International Association for
Research in Economic Psychology‚ Leuven‚ Belgium.
Scherhorn‚ G.‚ Reisch‚ L. A.‚ & Raab‚ G. (1990). Addictive buying in West Germany: An empirical
study. Journal of Consumer Policy‚ 13‚ 355-387.
Sheldon‚ K. M.‚ & Kasser‚ T. (1995). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 68‚ 531-543.
Sheldon‚ K. M. (1995). Creativity and self-determination in personality. Creativity Research Journal‚ 8
61-72.
Sheldon‚ K. M. (1996). The Social Awareness Inventory: Development and
applications. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin‚ 22‚ 620-634.
Strauss‚ J. & Ryan‚ R.M. (1987). Autonomy disturbances in subtypes of anorexia nervosa. Journal of
Abnormal Psychology‚ 96‚ 254-258.
Wheeler‚ B.L. (1984). Awareness of internal and external cues as a function of the interaction between
causality orientations and motivational subsystems. Unpublished doctoral dissertation‚ Fordham University.
Williams‚ G. C.‚ & Deci‚ E. L. (1996). Internalization of biopsychosocial values by medical students: A
test of self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 70‚ 767-779.
Williams‚ G. C.‚ Grow‚ V. M.‚ Freedman‚ Z.‚ Ryan‚ R. M.‚ & Deci‚ E. L. (1996). Motivational predictors
of weight loss and weight-loss maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology‚ 70‚ 115-126.
Wong‚ M. M. (2000). The relations among causality orientations‚ academic experience‚ academic
performance‚ and academic commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin‚ 26‚ 315-326.
Zuckerman‚ M.‚ Gioioso‚ C.‚ & Tellini‚ S. (1988). Control orientation‚ self-monitoring‚ and preference for
image versus quality approach to advertising. Journal of Research in Personality‚ 22‚ 89-100.