Illusion of Control

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Academic Definitions

The illusion of control is the one’s belief that s/he can handle hazardous situations [1] or the tendency of individuals to perceive that they have more control over their own behaviour or over the environment than they can actually have. [2]


"Whereas optimism refers to a generalized expectancy for positive outcomes independent of the source of the outcomes, the illusion of control locates the source of the expected outcome in terms of personal control." [3] Thus, the illusion of control depends exclusively on the active role that the person can play in a particular situation.

See also



  1. DeJoy, D. M. (1987). Supervisor attributions and responses for multicausal workplace accidents. Journal of Occupational Accidents, 9(3), 213-223.
  2. Langer, E. J. (1975). The illusion of control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 311–328.
  3. McKenna, F. P. (1993). It Won’t Happen to Me: Unrealistic Optimism or Illusion of Control. British Journal of Psychology, 84, pp 39–50.