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Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals.[1] 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.[2]

It is important here to understand the distinction between self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy relates to a person’s perception of their ability to reach a goal, whereas self-esteem relates to a person’s sense of self-worth. For example, say a person is a terrible rock climber, they would probably have poor self-efficacy with regard to rock climbing, but this need not affect their self-esteem since most people don’t invest much of their self-esteem in this activity.[3] Conversely, one might have enormous skill at rock climbing, yet set such a high standard for oneself that self-esteem is low.[4] At the same time, someone who has high self-efficacy in general might think that they are good at rock climbing even when they are not, or, knowing they are not, still believe that they could do it, and could quickly learn.


[edit] Social cognitive theory

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as our belief in our ability to succeed in specific situations. Your sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how you approach goals, tasks, and challenges. The concept of self-efficacy lies at the center of Bandura’s social cognitive theory, which emphasizes the role of observational learning and social experience in the development of personality. According to Bandura's theory, people with high self-efficacy - that is, those who believe they can perform well - are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

[edit] 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 often overestimate their ability to complete tasks, which can lead to difficulties. On the other hand, people with a self-efficacy significantly lower than their ability are unlikely to grow and expand their skills. Research[citation needed] shows that the ‘optimum’ level of self-efficacy is a little above ability, which encourages people to tackle challenging tasks and gain valuable experience.
People with high self-efficacy in a task are more likely to make more of an effort, and persist longer, than those with low efficacy.[5] The stronger the efficacy or mastery expectations, the more active the efforts. [6] 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.[7] 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 overview 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 make a greater effort. Self-efficacy also affects how people respond to failure. A person with a high self-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 self-efficacy in regards to mathematics may attribute a poor result to a harder than usual test, feeling sick, lack of effort or insufficient preparation. A person with a low self-efficacy will attribute the result to poor ability in mathematics. See Attribution Theory.
Health Behaviors
Health behaviors such as non-smoking, physical exercise, dieting, condom use, dental hygiene, seat belt use, or breast self-examination are, among others, dependent on one’s level of perceived self-efficacy (Conner & Norman, 2005). Self-efficacy beliefs are cognitions that determine whether health behavior change will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and failures. Self-efficacy influences the effort one puts forth to change risk behavior and the persistence to continue striving despite barriers and setbacks that may undermine motivation. Self-efficacy is directly related to health behavior, but it also affects health behaviors indirectly through its impact on goals. Self-efficacy influences the challenges that people take on as well as how high they set their goals (e.g., "I intend to reduce my smoking," or "I intend to quit smoking altogether"). A number of studies on the adoption of health practices have measured self-efficacy to assess its potential influences in initiating behavior change (Luszczynska, & Schwarzer, 2005). Often single-item measures or very brief scales (e.g., 4 items) have been used. It is actually not necessary to use larger scales if a specific behavior is to be predicted. More important is rigorous theory-based item wording. A rule of thumb is to use the following semantic structure: "I am certain that I can do xx, even if yy (barrier)" (Schwarzer, 2008). If the target behavior is less specific, one can either go for more items that jointly cover the area of interest, or develop a few specific sub scales. Whereas general self-efficacy measures refer to the ability to deal with a variety of stressful situations, measures of self-efficacy for health behaviors refer to beliefs about the ability to perform certain health behaviors. These behaviors may be defined broadly (i.e., healthy food consumption) or in a narrow way (i.e., consumption of high-fibre food).
The Destiny Idea
Bandura showed that people of differing self-efficacy perceive the world in fundamentally different ways.[8][9] 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.

[edit] 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. Modelling - a.k.a. "Vicarious 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 usually increase an observer's self-efficacy. Although not as influential as past experience, modelling 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, those with low self-efficacy may take this as a sign of their own inability, thus decreasing their efficacy further,while those with high self-efficacy is likely to interpret such physiological signs as normal and unrelated to his or her actual ability. Thus, it is the person's belief in the implications of their physiological response that alters their self-efficacy, rather than the sheer power of the response.

[edit] Theoretical models

A theoretical model of the effect of self-efficacy on transgressive behavior was developed and verified in research with school children.[10]

[edit] Prosociality and moral disengagement

Feelings of self-efficacy with respect to academic work, social interactions, and self-regulation influenced prosocial behavior (helping others, sharing, being kind and cooperative) and whether or not a child could avoid moral responsibility. Self-regulatory self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy have a negative relationship with moral disengagement (making excuses for bad behavior, avoiding responsibility for consequences, blaming the victim).[11] Social Self-Efficacy has a positive relationship with prosocial behavior. On the other hand, moral disengagement and prosocial behavior have a negative relationship.[12] The three types of self-efficacy are positively related.

[edit] Over-Efficaciousness in Learning

Research on learning has indicated that in certain circumstances, having less self-efficacy for a subject may be helpful, as negative attitudes towards how quickly/well one will learn can actually prove of benefit. One study[13] 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.

[edit] Models of Health Behavior Change

Social-cognitive models of health behavior change include the construct of perceived self-efficacy either as predictors, mediators, or moderators. Self-efficacy is supposed to facilitate the forming of behavioral intentions, the development of action plans, and the initiation of action. Moreover, self-efficacy can assist relapse prevention. As a moderator, self-efficacy can support the translation of intentions into action. See Health Action Process Approach.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (5th ed.), "glossary". N.J., Merrill: Upper Saddle River (companion website)
  2. ^ David Sue, Derald Wing Sue, Stanley Sue, 8th edition Understanding Abnormal Behavior, pg 214
  3. ^ Self-efficacy Lecture - Pajares
  4. ^ Prof. Albert Bandura quoted in The Wall Street Journal 29 April 2008: D1
  5. ^ Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning.
  6. ^ Bandura, Albert (1977), Social Learning Theory, Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall, pp. 247, ISBN 0138167443, 
  7. ^ Self-efficacy defined
  8. ^ Karyn Ainsworth, Fall Quarter Seminar Paper: What is Teaching? / What is Learning?
  9. ^ Diffusion of the Internet within a Graduate School of Education, 2. Conceptual Framework Bandura: Efficacy x Value
  10. ^ Albert Bandura, Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli, and Concetta Pastorelli, "Sociocognitive Self-Regulatory Mechanisms Governing Transgressive Behavior" [PDF]
  11. ^ Albert Bandura, Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli3, Maria Gerbino, and ConcettaPastorelli, "Role of Affective Self-Regulatory Efficacy in Diverse Spheres of Psychosocial Functioning"
  12. ^ Kwak, K., & Bandura, A. (1998). Role of perceived self-efficacy and moral disengagement in antisocial conduct. Manuscript, Osan College, Seoul, Korea.
  13. ^ Christine Galbreath Jernigan, What do Students Expect to Learn? The Role of Learner Expectancies, Beliefs, and Attributions for Success and Failure in Student Motivation.

[edit] External articles and further reading

  • Information on Self-Efficacy; A Community of Scholars.
  • The construct of Self-Efficacy; from National Cancer Institute Website.
  • Conner , M. & P. Norman (2005) (Eds.), Predicting health behaviour (2nd ed. rev.). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
  • Dijkstra, A., & De Vries, H. (2000). Self-efficacy expectations with regard to different tasks in smoking cessation. Psychology & Health, 15(4), 501-511.
  • Gutiérrez-Doña, B., Lippke, S., Renner, B., Kwon, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2009). How self-efficacy and planning predict dietary behaviors in Costa Rican and South Korean women: A moderated mediation analysis. Applied Psychology: Health & Well-Being, 1(1), 91–104.
  • Lippke, S., Wiedemann, A. U., Ziegelmann, J. P., Reuter, T., & Schwarzer, R. (2009). Self-efficacy moderates the mediation of intentions into behavior via plans. American Journal of Health Behavior, 33(5), 521-529.
  • Luszczynska, A., Tryburcy, M., & Schwarzer, R. (2007). Improving fruit and vegetable consumption: A self-efficacy intervention compared to a combined self-efficacy and planning intervention. Health Education Research, 22, 630-638.
  • Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Social cognitive theory. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health behaviour (2nd ed. rev., pp. 127-169). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
  • Luszczynska, A., Gutiérrez-Doña, B., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). General self-efficacy in various domains of human functioning: Evidence from five countries. International Journal of Psychology, 40(2), 80-89.
  • Pajares, F., & Urdan, T. (Eds.). (2006). Adolescence and education, Vol. 5: Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  • Renner, B., Kwon, S., Yang, B.-H., Paik, K-C., Kim, S. H., Roh, S., Song, J., Schwarzer, R. (2008). Social-cognitive predictors of dietary behaviors in South Korean men and women. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15(1), 4-13.
  • Schwarzer, R. (Ed.). (1992). Self-efficacy: Thought control of action. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
  • Schwarzer, R. (2008). Modeling health behavior change: How to predict and modify the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57(1), 1-29.
  • Seifert, Timothy L., Understanding Student Motivation. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Newfoundland. 2004
  • Banyard, Philip (2002). Psychology in Practice: Health. Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-84496-5. 
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