There are many ways in which people try to solve problems in their lives and in the world. But, there are two widely used methods that take completely opposite approaches. The method used is usually a function of the person’s Locus of Control.
Internal Locus Problem Solving (ILPS)- Someone with an Internal Locus of Control sees the solution to the problem stemming from his (or her) own actions. He has the power to change himself. He uses the change within himself to solve his problem(s). In terms of personal safety, self-defense education and training is an example of Internal Locus Problem Solving. The solution comes from within. This method is also known as Bottom Up problem solving.
External Locus Problem Solving (ELPS) – Someone with an External Locus of Control sees the solution to the problem stemming from the actions of others. They see the problem on a more global scale. The problem stems from the environment. Therefore, the solution to solving the problem comes from changing the environment. In terms of personal safety, self-defense is not the solution. Reducing criminal behavior is the solution. This method is also known as Top Down problem solving.
Theoretically, these two methods should be complimentary. They should work together solving the problem from both ends. Unfortunately, in the real world of ideology and advocates, many times proponents of these methodologies spend a tremendous amount of time and resources disparaging the other methodology as being ineffective.
The basic thought process behind ILPS, is that social problems can be solved by the sum of the unique actions of individuals. Social change occurs when a critical mass of individual behaviors change society, think of drops in a bucket, a ripple in a pond, the butterfly’s wings, etc.
Depending upon the practical problem at hand, this method may or may not be effective. But, since the actions start with the individual, there is less of chance for unintended large scale side-effects.
ELPS is a different matter. The goal is to start by changing society. The thought process behind ELPS is that other people usually in the form of government or social institutions, need to become involved (come to the rescue). They have the power to effect change. In order to get these entities involved, the problem must be seen as wide scale, and to be as threatening as possible. The first step of ELPS is not accurately identifying and describing the problem, it is to make the problem appear as large as possible in order to get attention.
It is here that Hyper-Advocates using ELPS become part of the problem they want to solve. Hyper-Advocates are unwilling to define the limits (extent) of the problem. They promote the problem as being everywhere and it occurs all the time. They use terms such as “X do this” or “Y do that” with the implication being that all X do this, all the time or all Y do that, all the time.
What the Hyper-Advocates don’t understand is that if ALL people do something, then it is ingrained human nature that is highly unlikely to change. It is when SOME people do something and others don’t do it, that there is hope to change behaviors.
In order to draw outside attention, Hyper-Advocates do not want to promote an accurate description of the problem. They want to promote an inflated view of the problem. They don’t want accurate studies. They want inflated studies.
An effective method to inflate studies is to co-mingle different data while making it appear as through the data is similar. For example, “last year in Town X of 50,000 people, there were 1,000 murders and assaults”. That sounds like a dangerous town. Call in the National Guard. But, what if there was only 1 murder, and 999 assaults which all came in the form of spitting? In this case, the town doesn’t have a killing problem, it has a spitting problem.
The issue is that there are vastly different needs and requirements when solving a town wide killing or spitting problem. If you really want to solve a problem, you need to know exactly WHAT the problem is, and WHO IS effected by the problem, and WHO is NOT effected. The more accurate the information, the better. Accurate data needed to solve the problem. That is what epidemiologists do.
The Internet has provided those who want to solve social problems with a means to band together and a delivery system for their methods. Those that combine ILPS (Bottom Up) with ELPS (Top Down) have the greatest ability to solve society’s problems. On the other hand, the Hyper-Advocates of ELPS need to take care to not become part of the problem they want to solve.