from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Control is the surveillance or verification of a situation or a person and thus a means of domination or violence over someone or something. Another definition of control that is free of domination and violence can be found, for example, in business controlling or in the psychological control (see below) of an individual over his own life.


Etymologically, the word comes from French contrôle , in the older spelling contrerolle (in French contre , 'against' and French rôle , 'role', 'register'), which originally referred to a "counter-register for checking information from an original register". Gotthold Ephraim Lessing apparently took over the French word for the first time in 1767, when he said that Voltaire was "quite uncomfortable with his historical control". The word came into use in its current meaning in the 19th century.

Control from a cognitive psychological point of view

Control belief

When Julian Rotter first introduced the concept of control into psychology in 1966 with his Locus of Control , his aim was to introduce a scale at the positive pole of which the achievement motivation (internal locus of control) and at the negative pole the social external control (external Locus of Control).

When a reinforcement is perceived by a person as a result of one's own actions, but not as entirely dependent on one's own actions , it is usually perceived in our culture as the result of luck, chance, fate, or as being more powerful under control other people standing, or as unpredictable because of the great complexity of the influences from the environment. When the result is interpreted in this way by an individual, Rotter refers to it as a belief in external control.

If the person perceives the event as dependent on their own actions or dependent on personal, relatively long-lasting character traits, Rotter describes this as belief in internal control.

Rotter assumes that this variable is of great importance for understanding learning processes in different learning situations - and that there are fundamental differences between individuals that relate to the degree of their willingness to experience rewards as being under their own control, even if the situation is the same. According to Rotter, it depends on whether the individual thinks or believes that they have external or internal control. His Locus of Control had a powerful effect that continues to this day.

Attribution theory

Bernard Weiner took up this control theory in 1971 and differentiated the attribution of control in the direction of personal success:

Particularly favorable emotional consequences (e.g. pride) have individuals who attribute failures externally (e.g. coincidence, circumstances) and successes internally (e.g. perseverance, ability) because this prevents negative self-esteem-related affects. Such an attribution pattern leads to high positive and low negative incentives for performance and should induce the individual to take up performance-related activities.

Weiner further differentiates between the two levels of attribution of achievement motivation : on the first level of the 'external attribution of failure' it is unfavorable to attribute the failure to be stable, whereas it is beneficial to attribute it variably, while on the second level of the 'internal attribution of success' exactly the opposite applies ; It is therefore unfavorable there to variable success, and favorable to attribute success internally in a stable manner.

Learned helplessness

Just one year after the Locus of Control, in 1967, Martin Seligman made an indirect but extremely momentous contribution to control theory with the learned helplessness :

According to Seligman, helplessness is the psychological state that is often produced when events are uncontrollable. The decisive terms that are still shaped by behavioral thinking are voluntary responses and independence from reaction and consequence (response-outcome independence).

This defines control as the opposite of learned helplessness .

Classification of attributes in humans

Since Seligman obtained his research results from dogs that, for example, could or could not switch off electrical surges with the snout depending on the test conditions, Abramson, Seligman and Teasdale changed the theory in 1978 to make it more applicable to humans . The result is an attribution-theoretic approach in which a differentiation is made between universal versus personal, general versus specific and chronic versus temporary helplessness:

  1. For example, the incurable leukemia of his child makes a father universally helpless who vainly pulls all the stops to save his child's life and to have it saved by others: the father believes that the course of the disease is completely independent of all his efforts and those of others .
    Personally helpless, for example, the lack of learning success makes a student who does all his homework, drills the exam-relevant material and hires a tutor, and still fails in all exams. This student becomes convinced that he is just being stupid and gives up trying to pass the exams.
    The authors consider this situation to be uncontrollable, insofar as the person initially believed that there would be alternative courses of action to the status quo which, if carried out consistently, would enable an examination to be passed, even if he is not currently practicing it, but then believes it, regardless of any exertion of will that she undertakes, she cannot increase the likelihood of good grades through her efforts.
  2. For example, a broad spectrum of situations (e.g. an examination failure in all important school subjects or panic disorders ) make people generally helpless , whereas if this occurs only in a narrowly defined area (e.g. an examination failure in an important school subject or agoraphobia ), this behavior is specifically uncontrollable apply.
  3. For example, a depressed person is chronically helpless if they have been marked by years of helplessness, while a short-term, for example minutes-long and not always recurring depressed state is considered temporarily uncontrollable.

By adding a more controllable state 2 (universal | personally uncontrollable, general | specifically uncontrollable and chronic | temporarily uncontrollable) to a helpless state 1 , the authors humanize the control theory and make it pedagogically, clinically and developmentally applicable.

Control from an action psychological point of view

In 1981, Rainer Oesterreich first moved the concept of control into the center of a psychological theory. Seligman's conception leads to implausible inferences according to which a person is in control, even though, following common sense, the situation reveals the exact opposite. The 1st situation should make it clear that in an appropriate definition of control, the purposefulness of a person's actions must be taken into account, the 2nd situation that the knowledge of a person who Austria calls control competence must also be taken into account:

  1. In situation 1, all events are dependent on the actions of a person, but all possible events are undesirable or even end the existence of the person: An airplane has lost its orientation over the Atlantic. When the pilot has determined his geographical position again, he realizes that no mainland, let alone an airfield, is close enough to be reached with the remaining fuel supply, just a rocky island on which the plane would crash. The pilot has alternative courses of action with various consequences, all of which are known to him. In Seligman's concept, the pilot therefore has control, but not according to Austria: The mistake lies in the fact that the pilot's objective of action is abstracted from, in the example his goal of safely landing the aircraft.
  2. In situation 2, events are also dependent on the actions of a person, but the person does not know in which way: A person who has never piloted an airplane is taken on a sport airplane. The pilot suffers a heart attack during the flight and the person has to take control of the aircraft. A number of actions - actuation of certain levers, etc. - are available to this person, all of which have results - possibly very clear - but the person does not know which ones. In Seligman's concept, this person also has control, but again not in Austria because they lack control competence.

The Austrian concept of control in action concerns the relationship between a purposeful actor and events in an objective situation in which the actor acts. Control refers to the extent to which the agent's targeted event is dependent or independent of his or her actions. The agent has control competence , which is determined by his knowledge of the dependence of the desired event on his own actions.

By introducing real probabilities into its mathematical model of the field of action , Austria contradicts the cognitive-psychological assumption that those structures are represented in the field of action that are in the mind of the actor; rather, his model of the field of action depicts objective structures, i. H. a network of possible actions, consequences and real probabilities that are given to the agent regardless of his knowledge and opinions. His mathematical model of the field of action should therefore map structures that the optimal agent would have to take into account when anticipating possible courses of action and planning his course of action, i.e. drafting his program of action. Depending on the inter-individual differences in action skills , there are different effective probabilities of actions. That is, it can e.g. For example, an action with a suitably skillful person achieves a certain consequence with an effective probability of 1, while for a completely unskillful person, on the other hand, the effective probability is 0. With the same material basis of a field of action, different structures of the field of action can result for different actors. Austria assumes that the real probabilities of actions are largely effective in the form of feelings .

The Austrian concept of motivation is also centered around the concept of control in that it assumes an anthropological striving for control, according to which action is taken for the sake of future action, i.e. action is taken in a targeted manner in order to be able to continue to act in a targeted manner in the future. The striving for control consists in the striving to maintain and expand control and control competence, which Dietrich Dörner differentiates into an epistemic and a heuristic control competence and thus determines the central difference between the control of the existing on the one hand and the new on the other. Since an increase in the ability to act increases control, the striving for control also relates to the acquisition of the ability to act. In its most general form, Austria understands control as the regulatability of areas of activity and control competence as the appropriateness of the internal representation of areas of activity. Austria assumes that people regulate themselves from the start on the basis of the striving for control inherent in them, without having consciously decided to adopt this strategy based on cultural influences or normative considerations.

Control from an economic sociological point of view

In economic sociology , different forms of control are distinguished, e.g. B. formal and informal control (the latter called clan control ).

The formal control is characterized by the establishment and monitoring of explicitly specified rules and procedures, performance studies of employees and sanctions. As a result, the behavior of the employees is steered directly through the organization and its structures. If the work-related behavior and the result are not specified by the organization, but rather generated by its members, we speak of informal control . Values, beliefs and goals that are shared are then also controlled by the employees themselves, whereby appropriate behavior is reinforced and rewarded. According to the scientists TK Das and B. Teng, informal control or clan control leads to higher interpersonal respect and less mistrust between the members of an organization than formal control.

Web links

Wikiquote: Control  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Control  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden, keyword "control"
  2. ^ Gotthold Ephraim Lessing / Franz Bornmüller, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, 1767-1769. Afterwards , 1884, p. 140
  3. JB Rotter: Generalized expectancies for internal vs. external control of reinforcement . In: Psychological Monographes 80, 1966, p. 300 ff.
  4. J. Schultz-Gambard: Applied social psychology . Munich: Psychologie Verlags Union 1987, p. 325.
  5. Martin EP Seligman: Learned helplessness. Urban and Schwarzenberg Munich 1983, p. 8 f.
  6. LY Abramson, MEP Seligman and JD Teasdale: Critique and Reformulation. In: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 1978, pp. 49-74.
  7. ^ Rainer Oesterreich: Action regulation and control. Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1981, p. 24 ff.
  8. a b Rainer Oesterreich: Action regulation and control. Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1981, p. 44.
  9. Dietrich Dörner et al. (Ed.): Lohhausen. How to deal with uncertainty and complexity. Huber, Bern 1983.
  10. ^ Rainer Oesterreich: Action regulation and control. Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1981, p. 210 f.
  11. TK Das, B. Teng: Between trust and control: Developing confidence in partner cooperation in alliance. In: Academy of Management, 1998. Rev. 23 (3) pp. 491-515.
  12. ^ V. Perrone, A. Zaheer, B. McEvily: Free to Be Trusted? Organizational Constraints on Trust in Boundary Spanners. In: Organization Science, 2003. Volume 14. No. 4. pp. 422-439 ff.