What is External Control? – A Comprehensive Guide

External control refers to the influence that external factors have on an individual’s thoughts, actions, and behavior. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements, societal norms, and the expectations of others, it’s important to understand the impact these outside forces can have on our decision-making process.

Whether it’s the media shaping our opinions, peer pressure leading us to conform, or the manipulation tactics used by marketers, external control plays a significant role in shaping our lives. By recognizing and understanding the concept of external control, we can take steps to regain our autonomy and make decisions that align with our true values and beliefs.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept of external control, exploring its various forms and discussing strategies to overcome its influence. So, if you’ve ever wondered why you sometimes feel like you’re not in control of your own life, keep reading to uncover the fascinating world of external control.

💡 Features of a Good Control System:

 Suitable: A good control system should be suitable for the needs and nature of the organisation.

 Simple: A good controlling system should be easy to operate and understand.

 Economical: The cost of setting, implementing, and maintaining a control system should not be more than the benefits gained from it.

 Flexible: A good control system should have the ability to adjust according to the changing business environment and internal conditions. 

Forward Looking: A good control system should move in a forward direction so that the managers can easily determine the deviations before they actually happen in the organisation.

 Objective: The standards of the organisation, its measurement of performance, and corrective actions should be impersonal and objective. 

 Management by exception: A good control system should focus its attention on the significant deviations which are crucial for the organisation, instead of looking for the deviation which does not have much impact on the business. 


Understanding external control

External control is a concept that has been studied extensively in psychology and sociology. It refers to the idea that our behavior is not solely determined by our own thoughts and desires, but is also influenced by external factors. These external factors can include societal pressures, cultural norms, and the actions and opinions of others.

Types of external control

There are various forms of external control that can influence our lives. One common form is media control, where the media shapes our opinions and beliefs through the content it produces. Whether it’s through news outlets, social media platforms, or advertising, the media has a powerful influence on what we think and how we perceive the world around us.

Another form of external control is peer pressure. As social beings, we often feel the need to conform to the expectations and behaviors of those around us. Peer pressure can come in many forms, from subtle suggestions to direct coercion, and can have a significant impact on our decision-making process.

The effects of external control on individuals and society

The effects of external control can be both positive and negative. On one hand, external control can help maintain order and stability in society. It can provide guidance and structure, helping individuals make decisions that align with societal norms and values.

However, excessive external control can have detrimental effects on individuals and society as a whole. It can limit personal autonomy, stifle creativity and innovation, and lead to a lack of critical thinking. It can also perpetuate inequality and social injustice, as those in positions of power can use external control to maintain their status and privilege.

Examples of external control in different contexts

External control can manifest in various contexts, from personal relationships to organizations and institutions. In personal relationships, external control can take the form of manipulation, coercion, and emotional abuse. It can restrict individual freedom and autonomy, leading to feelings of frustration and unhappiness.

In organizations, external control can be seen in hierarchical structures, where those in positions of power exert control over their subordinates. This can create a toxic work environment and hinder innovation and creativity.

The psychology of external control

The concept of external control has deep roots in psychology. Psychologists have studied how external factors can influence our behavior and decision-making processes. They have identified various cognitive biases and heuristics that can make us susceptible to external control.

One such bias is the confirmation bias, where we tend to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore information that challenges them. This can make us more susceptible to external control, as we are more likely to accept information that aligns with our preconceived notions.

Overcoming external control and fostering personal autonomy

While external control can be pervasive, there are strategies that individuals can employ to regain their autonomy and make decisions that align with their true values and beliefs. One such strategy is self-awareness. By becoming aware of the external factors that influence our behavior, we can start to question and challenge them.

Another strategy is critical thinking. By developing our critical thinking skills, we can evaluate information and make decisions based on evidence and rationality, rather than being swayed by external influences.

The role of external control in relationships and organizations

External control plays a significant role in relationships and organizations. In relationships, it can lead to power imbalances and unhealthy dynamics. It can erode trust and intimacy, and lead to a lack of authenticity and emotional connection.

In organizations, external control can hinder collaboration and innovation. It can create a culture of fear and conformity, where employees are afraid to voice their opinions and take risks.

External control in politics and governance

External control is also prevalent in politics and governance. Politicians and governments often use external control tactics to manipulate public opinion and maintain their power. This can include propaganda, censorship, and restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.

The dangers of excessive external control

Excessive external control can have serious consequences for individuals and society. It can lead to a lack of personal autonomy and freedom, as well as a stifling of creativity and innovation. It can also perpetuate inequality and social injustice, as those in positions of power use external control to maintain their privilege.


External control is a pervasive force in our lives. It influences our thoughts, actions, and behavior in ways we may not always be aware of. By understanding the concept of external control and recognizing its various forms, we can take steps to regain our autonomy and make decisions that align with our true values and beliefs. Whether it’s questioning societal norms, challenging the media’s influence, or fostering critical thinking skills, we have the power to overcome external control and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.