How It Meets the Eye: Altering Locus of Control Through Environmental Data Visualization
Wilhelmi, Briana Rose
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Locus of control (LOC), first defined as a trait determining one’s sense of control over outcomes, continues to be refined. Originally treated as a generalized expectancy, scholars have extended its range for queries in specific domains (e.g., health, workplace, environmental behaviors), and, in more recent years, have suggested reformulating the concept as a state, based on evidence indicating its susceptibility to change. This paper builds on work suggesting a relationship between data visualization techniques and LOC by presenting the results of an experiment aiming to manipulate environmental internal LOC by varying the number of graphical elements in bar charts. Environmental issues, presenting cause for concern and a need for urgent action, provide a timely area for application—and one in which a shift toward internal locus of control carries substantial benefits, as research indicates a strong link between internal LOC and participation in pro-environmental behaviors.