SELF-EFFICACY BELIEFS IN HUMAN FUNCTIONING
by Albert Bandura
from Social Foundations of Thought and Action, 1986
SELF-EFFICACY BELIEFS AFFECT HUMAN AGENCY IN DIVERSE WAYS:
- Choice behavior
- People tend to avoid engaging in a task where their efficacy is low, and generally undertake tasks where their efficacy is high. (p. 393)
- Accurate self-efficacy appraisal are important. The consequences are aversive for high-efficacy/low skill (irreparable harm) and restrictive (no growth) for low-efficacy/high skill.
- The efficacy judgments that are the most functional are probably those that slightly exceed what one can do at any given time. (p. 394)
- Effort expenditure and persistence
- The stronger the perceived self-efficacy, the more vigorous and persistent are people's their efforts.
- There is a distinction between the effects of strength of perceived self-efficacy on effort during learning and during execution of established skills.
- Self doubt creates the impetus for learning but hinders adept use of previously established skills. In other words, high self-efficacy can be a double-edged sword, because individuals with high self-efficacy "may feel little need to invest much preparatory effort" (p. 394).
- It is when one is applying skills that high-efficacy "intensifies and sustains the effort needed to realize a difficult performance, which are hard to attain if one is doubt-ridden" (p. 394).
- Thought patterns and emotional reactions
- Individuals with low self-efficacy tend to believe that things are tougher than they really are. This creates stress and narrow vision of how best to go about the problem. "By contrast, persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort" (p. 394).
- Perceived self-efficacy also shapes causal thinking. High efficacy people attribute failure to insufficient effort (this supports a success orientation); low efficacy attribute failure to deficient ability (see Collins, 1982).
- Humans as producers rather than simply foretellers of behavior
- "Research shows that people who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as inefficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it" (p. 395).
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELF-EFFICACY JUDGMENT AND ACTION
Self-efficacy judgments are related to action, but a number of factors can affect the strength of the relationship.
"Perceived self-efficacy contributes to the development of subskills, as well as draws upon them in fashioning new behavior patterns" (p. 395).
People with high efficacy build more skills through their continued effort; people with low efficacy inhibit and retard the development of needed subskills.
- Disincentives and performance constraints
- People with high efficacy and high skills may lack the incentive to behave in a predisposed manner. They may also lack necessary equipment or resources to perform. There are also social constraints.
- "When performances are impeded by disincentives, inadequate resources, or external constraints, self-judged efficacy will exceed the actual performance" (p. 396). That is, individuals may express that they are capable, but they will fail to perform because they feel impeded by these constraints.
- Consequences of misjudgment
- "When people have to choose between courses of action that have significant personal consequences, or have to decide how long they will continue a thwarting activity that consumes their time, effort, and resources, then accurate self-appraisals serve as valuable guides for action" (p. 396).
- Temporal disparities
- "The relationship between self-referent thought and action is most accurately revealed when they are measured in close temporal proximity" (p. 396). Therefore, self-efficacy must be checked periodically to assess the effect of their experiences on their competencies.
- Faulty assessments of self-percepts or performance
- "Causal processes are best clarified by a microanalytic approach in which self-reference thought is measured in terms of particularized self-percepts of efficacy that may vary across activities and circumstances, rather than in terms of a global disposition assayed by an omnibus test" (p. 396).
- "Measures of self-percept s must be tailored to the domain of psychological functioning being explored" (p. 396). That is, researchers must make certain that they are measuring the self-efficacy relevant to the experience being engaged in.
- Level, generality, and strength.
- Disparities will occur if efficacy is measured for a simulated situation and performance is subsequently measured in a real situation, or vice versa.
- Misweighting requisite subskills
- "When performance requirements are ill-defined, underestimating task demands produces errors in the direction of overassurance; overestimating task demands will produce errors in the conservative direction" (p. 397).
- Obscure aims and performance ambiguity
- "When aims are clear and level of performance is discernible, self-percepts of efficacy operate as influential regulators of performance attainment" (p. 398).
- This bears careful consideration in light of the role of mentors.
- "The problem of performance ambiguity arises when aspects of one's performances are not personally observable or when the level of accomplishment is socially judged by ill-defined criteria so that one has to rely on others to find how one is doing" (p. 398).
- "In most of the situations discussed thus far, self-appraisals of efficacy are reasonably accurate, but they diverge from action because people do not know fully whet they will have to do, lack information for regulating their effort, or are hindered by external factors from doing what they can" (p. 398).
- Faulty self-knowledge
- "In new undertaking people have insufficient experience to assess the veridicality of their self-appraisals and hence must infer their performance capabilities from knowledge of what they can do in other situations, which may be misleading" (p. 398).
- Personal factors can distort efficacy perceptions.
- "Distortions in memory of efficacy-relevant experiences and the circumstances under which they occurred will produce faulty self-appraisals" (p. 398).
SOURCES OF SELF-EFFICACY INFORMATION
- Mastery experience (enactive attainment)
- The most influential source of efficacy information because it is based on authentic mastery experience. Successes raise efficacy appraisals; failures lower them. (399)
- But the contextual filter is at work here--after "a strong sense of self-efficacy is developed through repeated successes, occasional failures are unlikely to have much effect on judgments of one's capabilities" (p. 399).
- "People who are assured of their capabilities are more likely to look to situational factors, insufficient effort, or poor strategies as the causes" (p. 399).
- "Failures that are overcome by determined effort can instill robust percepts of self-efficacy through experience that one can eventually master even the most difficult obstacles" (p. 399). Imagine the implications.
- Once established, enhanced self-efficacy tends to generalize to other situations . . . in activities that are similar to those in which self-efficacy was enhanced.
- Vicarious experience
- If others can do it . . . but by the same token, "observing that others perceived to be similarly competent fail despite high effort lowers observers' judgments of their own capabilities and undermines their efforts" (p. 399).
- Some factors make us more sensitive to vicarious influence
- Uncertainty about our own capability.
- Little prior experience.
- Criteria by which ability is evaluated - "Because most performances are evaluated in terms of social criteria, social comparative information figures prominently in self-efficacy appraisals" (p. 400).
- "Although vicarious experiences are generally weaker than direct ones, vicarious forms can produce significant, enduring changes through their effects on performance. People convinced vicariously of their inefficacy are inclined to behave in ineffectual ways that, in fact, generate confirmatory behavioral evidence of inability. Conversely, modeling influences that enhance perceived self-efficacy can weaken the impact of direct experiences of failure by sustaining performances in the face of repeated failure. A given mode of influence can thus set in motion processes that augment its effects or diminish the effects of otherwise powerful influences" (p. 400).
- Social persuasion (including verbal persuasions)
- "Can contribute to successful performance if the heightened appraisal is within realistic bounds" (p. 400).
- "However, the raising of unrealistic beliefs of personal competence only invites failures that will discredit the persuaders and will further undermine the recipient's perceived self-efficacy" (p. 400).
- "It is probably more difficult to produce enduring increases in perceived efficacy by persuasory means than to undermine it" (p. 400).
- Physiological states
- People "read their somatic arousal in stressful or taxing situations as ominous signs of vulnerability to dysfunction" (p. 401).
- Fear reactions. Fatigue. Aches and pains. General mal estar.
- "Treatments that eliminate emotional arousal to subjective threats heighten perceived self-efficacy with corresponding improvements in performance" (p. 401).
Cognitive processing of self-efficacy information
- "Information that is relevant for judging personal capabilities . . . becomes instructive only through cognitive appraisal" (p. 401). In other words, much depends on how an individual interprets all of the above.
- "When experience contradicts firmly held judgments of self-efficacy, people may not change their beliefs about themselves if the conditions of performance are such as to lead them to discount the import of their experience" (p. 401). The Perseverance Phenomena - see Nisbett and Ross, 1980.
- The cognitive processing of efficacy information involves two separable functions:
- Type of information people attend to and use as indicators of personal efficacy.
- Combination rules or heuristics they employ for weighting and integrating efficacy information from different sources in forming their self-efficacy judgments.
INTEGRATION OF SELF-EFFICACY INFORMATION
"In forming their efficacy judgments, people have to deal not only with different configurations of efficacy-relevant information conveyed by a given modality, but they also have to weigh and integrate efficacy information from these diverse sources. The weights assigned to different types of efficacy information may vary across different domains of activity" (p. 409). Connectedness - see the work of Milton Rokeach.
"There has been little research on how people process multidimensional efficacy information" (p. 409) or how people process multidimensional beliefs.
GENERALITY OF SELF-EFFICACY BELIEFS
Microanalytic research strategy
- "Individuals are presented with self-efficacy scales representing tasks varying in difficulty, complexity, stressfulness, or in some other dimension, depending on the particular domain of functioning being explored. They designate the tasks they judge they can do and their degree of certainty that they can execute them" (p. 422).
- We must safeguard against "whether self-efficacy probes can affect performance by creating public commitment and pressure for consistency" (p. 422).
- "Veridical self-appraisal is best achieved under conditions that reduce concern over social evaluation. When social evaluation of people's efficacy judgements is made salient, they are inclined to become conservative in their self-appraisals" (p. 422).
OF CENTRAL INTEREST TO SELF-EFFICACY THEORY
IS THE DYNAMIC INTERPLAY BETWEEN
SELF-REFERENT THOUGHT, ACTION, AND AFFECT
- "It is not uncommon for perceived self-efficacy to predict future behavior better than past performance" (p. 424). In part because past behavior affects future actions partly through its effects on perceived self-perceptions.
- If you can control how well people judge that they can perform, you account for much of the variance in the kinds of outcomes they expect. (p. 393)
- Perceived self-efficacy predicts performance better than expected outcomes (p. 393). But this is not true if
- Outcome expectations can be dissociated from self-efficacy judgments when either no action can produce a selected effect or extrinsic outcomes are loosely linked to level or quality of performance. Such structural arrangements permit social biases to come into play, so that the same performance attainments may produce variable and often inequitable outcomes. In prejudicially structured systems, variations in performance, however skillfully executed, may be little or no effect on some desired outcomes. Thus, for example, when athletes were rigidly segregated by race, black athletes could not gain entry to major league baseball no matter how well they pitched or batted. (p. 393)
- Expected outcomes are also partially separable from self-efficacy judgments when extrinsic outcomes are fixed to a minimum level of performance, as when a designated level of productivity produces a fixed pay but better performance brings no additional monetary benefits. When effects are socially linked to some minimal standard, performance exerts only partial control over outcomes.
Incorporate the above into a theoretical perspective and rationale that permits focusing on the following questions:
- What are the effects of knowledge and skills brought to the tutoring situation? What are the effects of self-efficacy beliefs (personal self-efficacy and teaching efficacy) of the tutors? What are the effects of the outcome expectations of the tutors?
- How does the interplay among knowledge and skills, perceived efficacy, and outcome expectations affect the behavior and perceptions of the tutors?
- How do efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations change as a function of experience with the program? Why?
||All rights reserved. You may link to this page for noncommercial, educational purposes, but its contents, in whole or in part, must not be copied or distributed electronically without appropriate citation. |
A Statement on "Fair Use": With the exception of the documents in the public domain, each of the articles, chapters, publications, and many of the materials on this site are protected by copyright. Note that some of the documents have been published in various journals or books, and copyright is retained by the organization that publishes those documents. These organizations typically allow authors to post material on web servers without permission, but users are asked not to repost the material without permission from the appropriate publisher. Permission to copy these materials for personal scholarly use accompanied by proper citation is granted as is permission to include text from these pages within any indexing system that provides free access to its users accompanied by proper citation. In general, this covers the contingencies related to scholarly pursuits. Fair use does not include reproduction of the materials in any form for any reason other than personal scholarly use without the written permission of the author or copyright holder. Please be keenly aware that one risks legal liability for "unfair use" of copyrighted material.|
"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."