Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals. [Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (5th ed.), " [,5159,1775072-content,00.html glossary] ". N.J., Merrill: Upper Saddle River (companion website)] It is a belief that one has the capabilities to execute the courses of actions required to manage prospective situations. Unlike efficacy, which is the power to produce an effect (in essence, competence), self-efficacy is the belief (whether or not accurate) that one has the power to produce that effect. For example, a person with high self efficacy may engage in a more health related activity when an illness occurs, whereas a person with low self efficacy would harbor feelings of hopelessness. [ David Sue, Derald Wing Sue, Stanley Sue, 8th edition Understanding Abnormal Behavior, pg 214]

It is important here to understand the distinction between self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-esteem relates to a person’s sense of self-worth, whereas self-efficacy relates to a person’s perception of their ability to reach a goal. For example, say a person is a terrible rock climber, they would likely have a poor self-efficacy in regard to rock climbing, but this wouldn’t need to affect their self-esteem since most people don’t invest much of their self-esteem in this activity. [ [ Self-efficacy Lecture - Pajares ] ] Conversely, one might have enormous skill at rock climbing, yet set such a high standard for himself that his self-esteem is low. [ Prof. Albert Bandura quoted in "The Wall Street Journal" 29 April 2008: D1 ]

ocial cognitive theory

The concept of self-efficacy is the focal point of Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory. By means of the self-system, individuals exercise control over their thoughts, feelings and actions. Among the beliefs with which an individual evaluates the control over his/her actions and environment, self-efficacy beliefs are the most influential arbiter of human activity. Self-efficacy – the belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments – is constructed on the basis of the four most influential sources: enactive attainment, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and physiological as well as emotional factors.Self-efficacy plays the central role in the cognitive regulation of motivation, because people regulate the level and the distribution of effort they will expend in accordance with the effects they are expecting.

How self-efficacy affects human function

;Choices regarding behavior: People will be more inclined to take on a task if they believe they can succeed. People generally avoid tasks where their self-efficacy is low, but will engage in tasks where their self-efficacy is high. People with a self-efficacy significantly beyond their actual ability likely overestimate their ability to complete tasks, which can lead to irreversible damage. On the other hand, people with a self-efficacy significantly lower than their ability are unlikely to grow and expand their skills. ResearchFact|date=May 2007 shows that the ‘optimum’ level of self-efficacy is a little above ability, which encourages people to tackle challenging tasks and gain valuable experience. ;Motivation: People with high self-efficacy in a task are more likely to expend more effort, and persist longer, than those with low efficacy. [ [ Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning] .] On the other hand, low self-efficacy provides an incentive to learn more about the subject. As a result, someone with a high efficacy may not prepare sufficiently for a task.;Thought patterns & responses: Low self-efficacy can lead people to believe tasks are harder than they actually are. [ [ Self-efficacy defined ] ] This often results in poor task planning, as well as increased stress. Observational evidence shows that people become erratic and unpredictable when engaging in a task in which they have low efficacy. On the other hand, people with high self-efficacy often take a wider picture of a task in order to take the best route of action. People with high self-efficacy are shown to be encouraged by obstacles to greater effort. Self-efficacy also affects how people respond to failure. A person with a high efficacy will attribute the failure to external factors, where a person with low self-efficacy will attribute failure to low ability. For example; a person with high efficacy in regards to mathematics may attribute a poor result to a harder than usual test, feeling sick, or lack of effort. A person with a low efficacy will attribute the result to poor ability in mathematics. "See Attribution Theory."; The Destiny Idea: Bandura successfully showed that people of differing self-efficacy perceive the world in fundamentally different ways. [Karyn Ainsworth, Fall Quarter Seminar Paper: [ What is Teaching? / What is Learning?] ] [Diffusion of the Internet within a Graduate School of Education, 2. Conceptual Framework [ Bandura: Efficacy x Value] ] People with a high self-efficacy are generally of the opinion that they are in control of their own lives; that their own actions and decisions shape their lives. On the other hand, people with low self-efficacy may see their lives as somewhat out of their hands.

Factors affecting self-efficacy

Bandura points to four sources affecting self-efficacy;;1. Experience: "Mastery experience" is the most important factor deciding a person's self-efficacy. Simply put, success raises self-efficacy, failure lowers it. :

"Children cannot be fooled by empty praise and condescending encouragement. They may have to accept artificial bolstering of their self-esteem in lieu of something better, but what I call their accruing ego identity gains real strength only from wholehearted and consistent recognition of real accomplishment, that is, achievement that has meaning in their culture." (Erik Erikson)"
;2. Modeling - a.k.a. " Experience": “If they can do it, I can do it as well.” This is a process of comparison between a person and someone else. When people see someone succeeding at something, their self-efficacy will increase; and where they see people failing, their self-efficacy will decrease. This process is more effectual where the person sees themselves as similar to his or her model. If a peer who is perceived as having similar ability succeeds, this will likely increase an observer's self-efficacy. Although not as influential as past experience, modeling is a powerful influence when a person is particularly unsure of him- or herself. ;3. Social Persuasions: Social persuasions relate to encouragements/discouragements. These can have a strong influence – most people remember times where something said to them significantly altered their confidence. Where positive persuasions increase self-efficacy, negative persuasions decrease it. It is generally easier to decrease someone's self-efficacy than it is to increase it. ;4. Physiological Factors: In unusual, stressful situations, people commonly exhibit signs of distress; shakes, aches and pains, fatigue, fear, nausea, etc. A person's perceptions of these responses can markedly alter a person's self-efficacy. If a person gets 'butterflies in the stomach' before public speaking, a person with low self-efficacy may take this as a sign of their own inability, thus decreasing their efficacy further. In contrast, a person with high self-efficacy is likely to interpret such physiological signs as normal and unrelated to his or her actual ability, which will continue to be seen as a disregard for trembling hands etc. Thus, it is the person's belief on the implications of their physiological response that alters their self-efficacy, rather than the sheer power of the response.

Theoretical models

A theoretical model of the effect of self-efficacy on transgressive behavior was developed and verified in research with school children. [Albert Bandura, Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli, and Concetta Pastorelli, " [ Sociocognitive Self-Regulatory Mechanisms Governing Transgressive Behavior] " [PDF] ]

Prosociality and moral disengagement

Feelings of self-efficacy with respect to school work, interpersonal interactions, and self-regulation influenced prosocial behavior and whether or not a child could avoid moral responsibility. These two factors influenced whether a child was preoccupied with grievances and feelings of anger, regardless if a child engaged in transgressions (aggression, cheating, etc.) was influenced by each of these factors. "Self-regulatory self-efficacy" and "academic self-efficacy" have a negative relationship with moral disengagement which is making excuses for bad behavior, avoiding responsibility for consequences, blaming the victim. [Albert Bandura, Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli3, Maria Gerbino, and ConcettaPastorelli, " [ Role of Affective Self-Regulatory Efficacy in Diverse Spheres of Psychosocial Functioning] "] Social Self-Efficacy has a positive relationship with prosocial behavior which is helping others, sharing, being kind and cooperative. On the other hand, moral disengagement and prosocial behavior has a negative relationship. [Kwak, K., & Bandura, A. (1998). Role of perceived self-efficacy and moral disengagement in antisocial conduct. Manuscript, Osan College, Seoul, Korea.] The three types of self-efficacy are positively related. When we are talking about a negative relationship, it simply means that the higher the individual’s academic self-efficacy, the less his or her moral disengagement. When we are talking about a positive relationship, it means that the higher the individual’s academic self-efficacy, the more he or she engages in prosocial behavior.

Over-Efficaciousness in Learning

Research on learning has indicated that in certain circumstances, having less self-efficacy for a subject may be helpful, while more negative attitudes towards how quickly/well one will learn, can actually prove of benefit. One study [Christine Galbreath Jernigan, [ What do Students Expect to Learn? The Role of Learner Expectancies, Beliefs, and Attributions for Success and Failure in Student Motivation] .] uses the foreign language classroom to examine students' beliefs about learning, perceptions of goal attainment, and motivation to continue language study. Survey and interview results indicated students’ attributions for success and failure and their expectations for certain subjects’ learning ability played a role in the relationship between goal attainment and volition. It appears that over-efficaciousness negatively affected student motivation. For other students who felt they were "bad at languages," their negative beliefs increased their motivation to study.

ee also

* Educational psychology
* Positive psychology
* Observational Learning
* Self (psychology)
* Dunning-Kruger Syndrome
* Organizational empowerment
* Locus of control


*Bandura, A. (1997). "Self-efficacy: The exercise of control". New York: WH Freeman and Company.
*Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. "Annual Review of Psychology", 52, 1-26.
*Baron, A. Robert (2004). "Social Psychology", Tenth Edition.

External articles and further reading

* [ Information on Self-Efficacy] ; A Community of Scholars.
* Pajares, F., & Urdan, T. (Eds.). (2006). Adolescence and education, Vol. 5: Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
*Seifert, Timothy L., "Understanding Student Motivation". Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Newfoundland. 2004
*cite book
last = Banyard
first = Philip
title =
publisher = Hodder and Stoughton
date = 2002
isbn = 0-340-84496-5

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • self-efficacy — An individual s estimate or personal judgment of his or her own ability to succeed in reaching a specific goal, e.g., quitting smoking or losing weight, or a more general goal, e.g., continuing to remain at a prescribed weight level. * * * self… …   Medical dictionary

  • self-efficacy — independent effectiveness …   English contemporary dictionary

  • само-эффективность (self-efficacy) — Автор. А.Бандруа. Категория. Теоретическое понятие концепции личности. Специфика. Убеждение индивида в том, что он может управлять своим поведением так, чтобы оно было эффективным. Литература. Bandura A. Self efficacy mechanism in human agency // …   Большая психологическая энциклопедия

  • Самоэффективность (self-efficacy) — Источники эффективности Вера людей в свою эффективность происходит из четырех осн. источников. Наиболее эффективный способ уверовать в собственную эффективность достичь высоких рез тов в чем либо. Успехи закладывают основу устойчивого убеждения… …   Психологическая энциклопедия

  • Efficacy — is the capacity to produce an effect. It has different specific meanings in different fields. 1 ef·fi·ca·cy /ˈɛfɪkəsi/ noun [noncount] formal : the power to produce a desired result or effect ▪ The efficacy of this treatment has not yet been …   Wikipedia

  • Self-concept — Self construction redirects here. For other uses, see Self construction (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Self awareness, Self consciousness, Self image, or Self perception. Contents 1 Overview 2 A Brief History 3 Academic Self …   Wikipedia

  • Self-regulated learning — The term self regulated can be used to describe learning that is guided by metacognition (thinking about one s thinking), strategic action (planning, monitoring, and evaluating personal progress against a standard), and motivation to learn… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-esteem — In psychology, self esteem reflects a person s overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth.Self esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, I am competent/incompetent ) and emotions (for example, triumph/, pride/shame). Behavior may… …   Wikipedia

  • Self (psychology) — The self is a key construct in several schools of psychology, broadly referring to the cognitive representation of one s identity. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology stems from the distinction between the self as I, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-hatred — ( also called self loathing) refers to an extreme dislike and hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudice towards oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group, family, social class, or stereotype to which… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.