Deutsch: Quelle der Bewertung / Español: Locus de Evaluación / Português: Lócus de Avaliação / Français: Locus d'Évaluation / Italiano: Locus di Valutazione

Locus of Evaluation in psychology refers to the source from which individuals draw their judgments about themselves and their actions. This concept is particularly prominent in humanistic psychology and is closely associated with the work of Carl Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic approach. The locus of evaluation can be either internal or external. An internal locus of evaluation means that an individual evaluates themselves based on their own values, beliefs, and standards. In contrast, an external locus of evaluation implies that an individual's self-assessment is heavily influenced by external factors, such as the opinions, expectations, or standards of others.


The locus of evaluation concept is crucial for understanding how people perceive themselves and their worth. Those with an internal locus of evaluation are seen as more self-directed and autonomous, making decisions and judgments based on their own internal compass. This independence is often linked to higher self-esteem, greater psychological well-being, and more resilience in the face of external pressures.

Conversely, individuals with an external locus of evaluation might rely heavily on external validation and approval to feel good about themselves. This dependency can make them more susceptible to social pressures and may contribute to issues with self-esteem, anxiety, and conformity, as their sense of self-worth is contingent upon the fluctuating opinions and approval of others.

Application Areas

The concept of the locus of evaluation is applied in several areas within psychology, including:

  • Clinical Psychology: Understanding and treating issues related to self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
  • Counseling Psychology: Helping clients develop a more internal locus of evaluation to enhance autonomy and self-esteem.
  • Educational Psychology: Teaching strategies that foster an internal locus of evaluation, promoting intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning.

Well-Known Examples

In therapy, particularly within approaches influenced by humanistic psychology, therapists might work with clients to explore and strengthen their internal locus of evaluation. This process can involve identifying areas where clients rely on external validation and developing strategies to build self-reliance and self-validation.

Treatment and Risks

Fostering an internal locus of evaluation is often a goal in therapeutic settings, especially in counseling and psychotherapy aimed at enhancing self-esteem and autonomy. Techniques may include reflective listening, validation of the client's internal experiences, and exercises designed to clarify personal values and beliefs. The risk lies in the balance; while an internal locus of evaluation is generally seen as desirable, it is also important for individuals to remain open to feedback and the perspectives of others, avoiding the extremes of disregarding external input altogether.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Self-Referencing: Refers to the process of making judgments based on one's own internal standards and beliefs.
  • Internal vs. External Frame of Reference: Another way of describing the concept of where individuals draw their evaluative criteria from.


The locus of evaluation is a fundamental concept in psychology that describes where individuals draw their judgments about themselves from—either internally, from their own values and standards, or externally, from the expectations and opinions of others. Understanding and working with the locus of evaluation can have profound implications for psychological health, influencing how individuals navigate their social environments, make decisions, and maintain their sense of self-worth and autonomy.