The self-efficacy theory does not refer to people’s personal abilities but to how strongly they believe they can use their abilities to function and achieve a given set of goals. By evaluating and analyzing one’s abilities, one can increase the level of self-efficacy. Increased self-efficacy means increased resilience and tolerance to perform well even under pressure.

Meaning Of self-efficacy

How does one define self-efficacy? The definition of self-efficacy is based on the internal characteristics of individuals. The term “self-efficacy” refers to individuals’ beliefs and ideas about their ability to actively and effectively perform the tasks needed to attain a predetermined task or goal.

Self-Efficacy Psychology

The concept of self-efficacy was put forward by an American-Canadian psychologist and researcher Albert Bandura in 1977. In his paper, ‘Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change’, Bandura said that self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations”.

Having a self-efficacy psychology means the firm belief of individuals in their ability to deliver efficiently. Bandura described these beliefs as determinant value points of how people behave, think and feel. When an individual has a clear idea about their ability to perform the given tasks, she can move forward without giving it a second thought. This would be a sign of a high or strong level of self-efficacy. If the individual does not feel confident about performing the assigned tasks, they might have low levels of self-efficacy.

According to Bandura, self-efficacy beliefs are influenced in five different ways:

1. Performance Experience

If an individual has had a positive experience in handling a task in the past, they will feel more confident in performing it again. But if the experience was negative, they might want to avoid taking up the task again due to a fear of failure.

2. Vicarious Performance 

If the individual has witnessed someone else completing a task beforehand, they might feel more confident in completing the task as they would have an idea about it.

3. Verbal Persuasion

People can also be persuaded by others about their ability to perform a task. People who know and have worked with the individual can play an important role in raising the self-efficacy levels.

4. Imagining Performances

Before conducting a complex or difficult task, people tend to run the scenario in their minds. This act of revision can be reassuring for an individual, act as a rehearsal for the big event and help the individual assess their abilities to perform the task.

5. Affective states and physical sensations 

How an individual feels about a certain situation or issue can have a huge role to play. Low mood or affective disorders may show up as a lack of self-efficacy. An individual with mood swings may have a low perception of their ability to deliver on a task, in turn lowering the levels of self-efficacy.

Self-Efficacy Theory Of Motivation

Individuals with low self-efficacy tend to view complex and difficult tasks as threats that should be avoided. As a result, they may avoid setting tasks or goals and may not have any expectations from themselves. This lack of confidence also results in low levels of commitment and motivation.

When such individuals encounter setbacks, they may tend to give up easily or quickly. This happens because they don’t possess enough confidence in their ability to achieve something. They are more likely to experience negative feelings of loss, fatigue, failure, remorse and depression. With regard to the self-efficacy theory of motivation, Bandura said, “Stressful situations can also be very hard to deal with and those with low self-efficacy are less resilient and less likely to bounce back.”

Self-Efficacy Example

Here are a few examples of self-efficacy:

Individuals who may be struggling with chronic illnesses such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases, but feel confident that they can get their life back on track and improve their health by taking all necessary care and following the doctor’s treatment and advice show high self-efficacy.

Such individuals also include those who, say, recently started with a job profile they haven’t had before, but feel that they possess the capability to grow into it and perform their duties well. They could also be students who feel confident that they will be able to learn and understand the new syllabus and perform well in the exams.

Harappa Education’s Leading Self course teaches all about self-efficacy, the ways to boost motivation levels through the self-efficacy theory, and provides effective tools for the holistic development of self. Sign in now to learn from leading educators, business thinkers and trainers.


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