Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Illusion of Control
Scott J. Moeller & Brad J. Bushman
The illusion of control (also known as illusory control) refers to the tendency for people to exaggerate their ability to produce a desired outcome. Even when it comes to controlling random events, people believe they have control. Traditionally, people assumed accurate self-knowledge was crucial for survival and health. In this formulation, people possessed the ability to correctly judge control over their environments; accurate knowledge of when one's actions produced particular outcomes—and when they did not—was thought to be critical for functioning effectively in the world. In a broad sense, this is true. For example, mentally healthy people know they cannot control whether the sun rises and sets each day. At the same time, though, a feeling of being in control is vital for self-esteem and mental health. The problem is people generally overestimate the amount of control they have over events. People do not always overestimate their control, however; contextual ...