Julian Rotter's Theoryexternal image 7.jpg

Julian Rotter argued that cognitions, or expectancies guide behaviours and are all created by learning. He said that when a person decides to engage in a behaviour it depends on two factors 1) what the person expects to happen after they have done the behaviour and 2) how much the person expects the outcome to be or how much they will value the outcome. One example would be studying for a test, first, past experience says that if they study for a test they will learn the content and ultimately pass the test and
graduate to get a job, and second, they place a high value on grades, education and getting a career. This meant to Rotter that behaviour is determined not only by consequences that Skinner called 'reinforcers' but the expectancy that particular behaviours will result in those consequences.

Rotter's focus was how expectations can form particular behaviours in certain situations, but he also influenced many researchers who examined people's more general expectations and what controls life's rewards and punishments. Reseacher's noticed how some people are more inclined to expect events to be controlled by their own efforts; this means that some people assume that what they achieve is the results of the efforts they make. While on the other hand, others are more inclined to expect events to be the outcome of external forces that they cannot control. When external forces are successful, people are more likely to believe that the success was the product of luck and chance.

Research on different expectancies show that they are inter-related with different behaviours. When confronted with a personal problem, internals will work to solve this problem, whereas externals are more likely to see problems as being unsolvable. Also, internals are more likely to work harder, stay physically healthy and less likely to drink alcohol or if they do drink, are less likely to drink and drive. In students, those that are internals are more likely to be better informed about the courses they will take, including knowing what they will need to do to get a higher grade and as a result internals get better grades then externals (Bernstein, Cramer, Fenwick, & Fraser, 2008).