Does it pay to prepare a lot for tests or is it impossible to study
for most tests?
Can ordinary people influence the government or do a few
people in power run things?
Do good friendships just happen because the chemistry is right
or do friendships happen because both people are making
attempts to get along?
Does it pay to carefully plan things out in detail or do most
things just work out as a matter of good or bad fortune
Is what happens to you mostly your own doing or are most
things beyond your control?
Once you understand the concept, the internalizer answers are
obvious, so you can get a good idea of how you would score on such a
What does being an internalizer or externalizer have to do with
dependency? If we consider our internal cognitive processes, such as
thoughts, skills, and decision-making, to be unimportant in
determining what we do, it seems unlikely that we would become
resourceful, self-reliant self-helpers. If we thought external forces
ruled our lives, we'd do little but look for help from others, human
service agencies, employers, government, God, or fate. Perhaps we'd
adopt an Eastern philosophy that says the universe is unfolding as it
should and our lot is to quietly, serenely accept whatever happens.
Beier and Valens (1975) have taken an attributional approach to
this issue and described five common targets of blame when things go
wrong: (1) other people, especially parents, siblings, friends, teachers,
bosses or traits in others involving selfishness, hostility, stupidity,
prejudice or other forms of maladjustment or malice; (2) forces
beyond our control, such as the government, a lack of money or time,
or fate; (3) ourselves, in the form of self-blame for physical
appearance, size, inability, nervousness, temper and so on; (4)
objects, such as defective or unreliable equipment--the late train, a
computer error, etc.; and (5) social-psychological circumstances,
including deprived or traumatic childhood experiences, poverty, poor
parents, poor education and so on. These targets of blame, including
self-blame (internal), become reasons for doing nothing because we
see the problems as beyond our control. Surely this is one way to
become pessimistic and passive.
On the other hand, believing we are in control of the situation has
a powerful impact on our behavior. We try harder. Pain and fears
aren't as disruptive if we believe we can control them to some extent.
A dramatic but gruesome illustration of this was done by Curt Richter
with rats. Wild rats are very good swimmers, being able to stay alive
for 80 hours or so in water. However, if they are restrained so they
can't escape and frightened right before being put in the water, many
will die after a few minutes of frantic swimming. By the way, they
don't drown; they just suddenly stop swimming and die. It is as if they