self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is measure of the belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. During past two decades, self-efficacy has emerged as a highly effective predictor of person`s motivation and learning. As a performance-based measure of perceived capability, self-efficacy differs conceptually and psychometrically from related motivational constructs, such as outcome expectations, self-concept, or locus of control. Researchers have succeeded in verifying its discriminant validity as well as convergent validity in predicting common motivational outcomes, such as students’ activity choices, effort, persistence, and emotional reactions. Self-efficacy beliefs have been found to be sensitive to subtle changes in students’ performance context, to interact with self-regulated learning processes, and to mediate students’ academic achievement.

shumaila-batool-smallConcept of self-efficacy lies at the center of psychologist Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory. According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” In other words, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. A person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills comprise what is known as self-system. This system plays a major role in how we perceive situations and how we behave in response to different situations. Self-efficacy plays an essential part of this self-system.

People who think they can perform well on a task do better than those who think they will fail. Differences in self-efficacy are associated with differences in skill level; however, efficacy perceptions also may be influenced by differences in personality, motivation, and the task itself. Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not simple. In an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointment.

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities

How does self-efficacy develop? These beliefs begin to form in early childhood as children deal with a wide variety of experiences, tasks, and situations. However, the growth of self-efficacy does not end during youth, but continues to evolve throughout life as people acquire new skills, experiences, and understanding. There are four major Sources of self-efficacy.

1. Mastery Experiences: The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences. “Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

2. Social Modeling: Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed.”

3. Social Persuasion: people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.

4. Psychological Responses: Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.

By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.