Erica Rothman, I like the well written way in which you have presented your path of reasoning and have arrived at the conclusion that the benefits of being subject to ‘an external locus of control’ rather than ‘for the learned optimism’ seems to be a better ‘choice’. I read your post thrice since it was a very thought provoking and did not want to miss out on your insights and be presumptive or judgmental.
There are three points that I would like to highlight from my perspective:
- Choices are what those with an internal locus of control make with some degree of confidence on a day to day basis towards what they feel will be beneficial to them as individuals or their constituencies (family, community, electorate, shareholders). The outcomes are relative and can be beneficial for some and not so for others (as exemplified by the elected administration in the US today).
- There is a step that I would include in your reasoning (especially in the example of Joy and Sadness when they move to the Bay Area) which are unpacking the two variables with regard to ‘circumstances’ which is analysis (where you have used Inside Out as a case study) . Those who are optimists believe that they have a certain degree of ‘control’ , which is the first variable and ‘the ability to make decisions’ over their circumstances, which is the second variable. Therefore at one end of the scale you have those who feel that they have full control over their circumstances and can make confident decisions and therefore the right choices. At the other end you have those who believe that they are not in control of their circumstances and cannot make decisions or choices. Determining where you are on this scale would be significant and strengthen the ability to derive more robust conclusions.
- With regard to your quote from the research outlined in The Benefits of Believing in Chance or Fate’, for those who believe that ‘the external locus’ governs most aspects of their lives, most events that happen in their lives seem to lead to an ‘up’ or better state of affairs relative to than where they are in the present (Buddhists refer to this as karma, pre-destiny or the inevitable).
Therefore rather than ‘learned optimism’ I would explore the possibilities of how I could better understand my circumstances, be more in control and make choices through better informed decisions.
I hope that these comments complement your post. Thank you for sharing.