Posted by: CJ | September 7, 2010

Locus of Control, Passive-Aggressive, and Outbursts

Thinking about it, it struck me recently that there’s a relationship between locus of control and passive-aggressive behavior.

People who feel their locus of control is extremely limited have few options to express when they’re upset, frustrated, disagree, need something different, whatever. If they don’t think they’ll be listened to, or worse think bad things will happen if they say what they really think, then their ability to express their opinions in a straight-forward manner is basically nil. Note that their small locus of control could be something entirely in their head, with no relationship to what their true range of possible actions is.

So the easiest way for people in that situation to communicate is in a very passive-aggressive manner. To them it will seem much more straight-forward, almost aggressive even, than to anyone who doesn’t share their view of their locus of control.

Sometimes though, that sort of communication just isn’t enough. Since they don’t think they’ll be listened to if they try to communicate in a restrained, logical manner, they might just clam up. And stay that way until the pressure builds and something happens that they think gives justification to blow-up in a fiery outburst of anger and accusations. And then everyone has to pick up the pieces.

I’m still playing around with these ideas. But I’m curious if they sound like a general pattern, or if this cluster of behaviors and rationalizations is just me?



  1. Yes. I’ve never articulated the general pattern that clearly, though.

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