Who Controls Your Fate?


The following statements describe how people feel about themselves and other people. Read each statement carefully, then mark how much you agree or disagree with it, using the scale below:

5 = Strongly agree
4 = Agree
3 = Neither agree nor disagree
2 = Disagree
1 = Strongly disagree

1. I live too much by other people’s standards.
2. In order to get along and be liked, I tend to be what
people expect me to be rather than anything else.
3. I guess I put on a show to impress people. I know I’m
not the person I pretend to be.
4. I change my opinion (or the way I do things) in order to
please someone else.
5. I have to be careful at parties and social gatherings for
fear I will do or say things that others won’t like.
6. In class, or in a group, I am unlikely to express my opinion
because I fear that others may not think well of it or
of me.
7. I keep still or tell “little white lies” in the company of my
friends so as not to reveal to them that I am different (or
think differently) from them.
8. There are many aspects of my behavior over which I
have very little control.
9. I often find that my own inclinations have little to do
with what I actually do or say.
10. I have trouble taking orders because they often conflict
with my own inclinations.
11. I always practice what I preach.
12. I am basically good at following through with my plans.
13. I never say anything I don’t mean.
14. I have my own code of behavior and I follow it to the
15. All one’s behavior should be directed toward a certain
small number of definite personal goals.
16. ”Tell it like it is” is always the best policy.
17. I can make impromptu speeches even on topics about
which I have almost no information.
18. I would probably make a good actor because I can play
any role.
19. I have very little trouble changing my behavior to suit
different people and different situations.
20. In informal discussions I often speak in favor of an unpopular
position in order to cause people to think more
carefully about what they are saying.
21. I can only argue for ideas to which I am strongly committed.
22. I think that it is very hard to predict how people are going
to behave.
23. Most behavior can’t be predicted in advance.
24. Some of the things my friends decide to do often come
as a great surprise to me.
25. Once you get to know a person well, even then his behavior
will often surprise you.
26. I usually have a pretty good idea how I’m going to behave
in a particular situation.
27. I usually know what my friends are going to do.
28. I think that most people are very predictable.
29. Once you get to know a person well, you can usually
tell what he/she is going to do.


The first step is to reverse score (5 = 1, 4 = 2, 3 = 3, 2 = 4, and 1 = 5) the following items: 10, 21, 26, 27, 28, and 29. After reverse scoring, you can find your scores on four subscales.
Other-Direction (OD) is comprised of items 1 through 10;
Inner-Direction (ID) consists of items 11 through 16;
Lack of Constraints on Behavior (LC) is comprised of items 17 through 21;
and Predictability of Behavior (Pr) is comprised of items 22 through 29.


About the Personal Behavior Inventory

Philosophers, poets, novelists, and of course psychologists have
engaged in a lively debate about the determinants of human behavior.
On the one hand, there are those who argue that people
are prisoners of social forces that they cannot resist. This view
suggests that we all, to varying degrees, conform to the expectations
that others have for us. On the other hand, there are those
who believe that every person has a unique configuration that
evolves from biological predispositions and early childhood experiences.
This view suggests that behavior is determined by
forces that lie within each individual.

Psychologist Julian Rotter entered this fray in the 1960s when
he proposed a personality dimension called internal-external locus
of control. Rotter argued that people varied in terms of how
they perceived the world. Those who scored at the internal end
of his scale believed that they were in control, that their efforts
made a difference in how their lives unfolded. Those who scored
at the external end of the scale believed that luck or powerful
others controlled their fate. Rotter’s scale inspired thousands of
research studies, and it became clear that this internal-external
dimension had important implications for a variety of situations.
People with an internal locus of control generally seemed to
have a higher level of psychological adjustment. Because they believed
their efforts made a difference, they were more active in
taking steps to increase the odds that they got what they wanted
from life. People with an external locus of control tended to experience
more depression and anxiety and viewed the world as a
frightening, hostile place.

UCLA psychologist Barry Collins and his colleagues were intrigued
by this conceptualization but argued that the internalexternal
dimension was more complex than Rotter had
suggested. Their test, the Personal Behavior Inventory, was developed
to explore their ideas further. As you can see from their
test and the scoring system, they concluded that there were four
dimensions relevant to how we view the world, the first of which
they called Other-Direction. People with high scores on this scale
feel pressured to conform to the expectations of others. Their
low self-esteem causes them to experience anxiety should they
think about saying or doing something that might displease
those around them. Consequently, they feel rather powerless to
control the direction of their lives.

The second dimension is called Inner-Direction, and as the
items suggest, people with high scores on this scale have an inner
plan or a psychological gyroscope, to use Collins’s term,
which guides their behavior. These people, similar to Rotter’s
internals, have a clear sense of the direction they want their
lives to take, and they believe they have the resources to get

Lack of Constraints is the third dimension. People with high
scores on this scale may be characterized as being creative and
free spirits. Collins and his colleagues speculated that such
people may be self-actualized in that they have the flexibility to
be spontaneous and to adapt to a wide variety of situations. A
skeptic, however, could argue that high scorers are chameleons
with little sense or little concern about what is appropriate or inappropriate.
I suspect a score in the 50th to the 70th percentile
range is the best place to be. It is desirable to have the flexibility
to adapt to different situations, but I believe a psychological gyroscope
is important as well.

Finally, the fourth dimension is Predictability of Behavior,
which includes the behavior of oneself as well as the behavior of
others. People with high scores on this scale have more confidence
in their ability to make sense of the world. Regardless of
whether they are outer- or inner-directed, they believe their lives
are understandable and hence, safe. People with low scores on
this scale tend to view life as more chaotic and hence, dangerous.
They have difficulty feeling confidence in the consequences of
their actions.

I found the Personal Behavior Inventory especially fascinating
because Collins demonstrated that the four dimensions on
his scale were independent. Unlike Rotter, whose test suggested
that one was either internal or external, Collins found that one
could have high scores on both the Inner- and Other-Direction
subscales of his test. It was also the case that the Lack of Constraints
and Predictability of Behavior subscales were independent
of the other subscales as well. This means that one person
could have any number of combination of scores on the various
scales. Further research is needed before we have a clear sense
of the implications of the potential profiles, but I would guess
that the profile indicating the highest degree of adjustment
would be a low score on the Other-Direction subscale, high
scores on the Inner-Direction and Predictability of Behavior
subscales, and as I indicated earlier, a moderately high score on
the Lack of Constraints subscale. I suspect that such people
would not be unduly influenced by the expectations of others;
they would have confidence that their efforts made a difference
and that the world was a safe, predictable place. They would also
be sufficiently free from either external or internal constraints
so that they could be spontaneous and creative when the situation
was appropriate. I only wish I fit that ideal profile a little
more closely.


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August 7, 2009 at 7:28 AM  

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