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A theory by one, Julian Rotter, to explain why people do things. As the name suggests, the theory states that a person's decision to undertake an action is based upon what they expect to follow and how valuable the outcome based upon that expectation is. This expectation is a result of experience and past learning. For example, a student wears stylish clothes to school because past experience has told them that this will gain them acceptance among their peers and they value that acceptance a lot.

Rotter classified people into two categories: internals and externals. Internals are more likely to believe that happenings are due to their own efforts. Externals, on the other hand, attribute them to factors such as luck which cannot be controlled by them. Studies have shown that internals are more likely to do better at school, score higher on standardized tests, work harder at being healthy, wear seat belts and avoid drugs and alcohol.

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