Passages by Albert Bandura
Passages that do not identify a year are from
Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social-Cognitive Theory

Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure (1997, p. 77).

Social cognitive theory rejects the dichotomous conception of self as agent and self as object. Acting on the environment and acting on oneself entail shifting the perspective of the same agent rather than reifying different selves regulating each other or transforming the self from agent to object (1989, p. 1181).

Gaining insight into one's underlying motives, it seems, is more like a belief conversion than a self-discovery process (p. 5).

A theory that denies that thoughts can regulate actions does not lend itself readily to the explanation of complex human behavior (p. 15).

To grant thought causal efficacy is not to invoke a disembodied mental state (p. 17).

Dualistic doctrines that regard mind and body as separate entities do not provide much enlightenment on the nature of the disembodied mental state or on how an immaterial mind and bodily events act on each other (p. 17).

If there is any characteristic that is distinctively human. it is the capability for reflective self-consciousness (p. 21).

People not only gain understanding through reflection, they evaluate and alter their own thinking (p. 21).

Forceful actions arising from erroneous beliefs often create social effects that confirm the misbeliefs (p. 21).

Among the types of thoughts that affect action, none is more central or pervasive than people's judgments of their capabilities to deal effectively with different realities (p. 21).

In the self-appraisal of efficacy, there are many sources of information that must be processed and weighed through self-referent thought (p. 21).

The human condition is better improved by altering detrimental circumstances and personal perspectives than by trying to alter personal outlooks, while ignoring the very circumstances that serve to nourish them (p. 23).

What people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave. The natural and extrinsic effects of their actions, in turn, partly determine their thought patterns and affective reactions (p. 25).

People's conceptions about themselves and the nature of things are developed and verified through four different processes: direct experience of the effects produced by their actions, vicarious experience of the effects produced by somebody else's actions, judgments voiced by others, and derivation of further knowledge from what they already know by using rules of inference (p. 27).

Through their capacity to manipulate symbols and to engage in reflective thought, people can generate novel ideas and innovative actions that transcend their past experiences (1989, p. 1182).

The self is...partly fashioned through the continued exercise of self-influence (1989, p. 1182).

People regulate their level and distribution of effort in accordance with the effects they expect their actions to have. As a result, their behavior is better predicted from their beliefs than from the actual consequences of their actions (p. 129).

Accurate processing of information about outcomes is no simple task under the variable conditions of everyday life . . . usually, many factors enter into determining what effects, if any, given actions will have, Actions, therefore, produce outcomes probabilistically rather than certainly. Depending on the particular conjunction of factors, the same course of action may produce given outcomes regularly, occasionally, or only infrequently (p. 130).

The difficulty in judging what type of behavior works well arises not only because a given course of action does not always produce the outcomes. Similar outcomes can occur for reasons other than the person's actions, which further complicates inferential judgment. Effects that arise independently of one's actions distort the influence of similar effects produced by the actions, but only on some occasions. Given a strong cognitive set to perceive regularities, even chance joint occurrences of events can be easily misjudged as genuine relationships of low contingent probability (p. 130).

When actions are followed by events that are not causally related to the prior acts, people often erroneously perceive contingencies that do not, in fact, exist (p. 130).

Moreover, joint occurrences tend to be better recalled than instances when the effect does not occur. The proneness to remember confirming instances, but to overlook disconfirming ones, further serves to convert, in thought, coincidences into causalities.(p. 130).

Because of such conjointedness, behavior that exerts no effect whatsoever on outcomes is developed and consistently performed (p. 130).

Ironically, it is the talented who have high aspirations, which are possible but exceedingly difficult to realize, who are especially vulnerable to self-dissatisfaction despite notable achievements (p. 357).

Dysfunctions can occur in each of the self-regulatory subfunctions--in how personal experiences are self-monitored and cognitively processed, in the evaluative self-standards that are adopted, and in the evaluative self-reactions to one's own behavior.. Problems at any one of these points can create self-dissatisfactions and dejection. dysfunctions in all aspects of the self system are most apt to produce the most chronic self-disparagement and despondency (p. 358).

Success and failure are largely self-defined in terms of personal standards. The higher the self-standards, the more likely will given attainments be viewed as failures, regardless of what others might think (p. 358).

The presence of many interacting influences, including the attainments of others, create further leeway in how one's performances and outcomes are cognitively appraised (p. 359).

Self-percepts foster actions that generate information, as well as serve as a filtering mechanism for self-referent information in the self-maintaining process (p. 359).

Except for events that carry great weight, it is not experience per se, but how they match expectations, that governs their emotional impact (p. 359) [why poor writing performance does not create writing apprehension]

The satisfactions people derive from what they do are determined to a large degree by their self-evaluative standards (p. 359) A sure way of inducing self-discouragement and a sense of personal inadequacy is to judge one's ongoing performances against lofty, global, or distal goals (p. 359).

Judgments of adequacy involve social comparison processes (p. 360).

In social cognitive theory, perceived self-efficacy results from diverse sources of information conveyed vicariously and through social evaluation, as well as through direct experience (p. 411).

It is no more informative to speak of self-efficacy in global terms than to speak of nonspecific social behavior (p. 411).

Once established, reputations do not easily change (p. 417).

Regression analyses show that self-efficacy contributes to achievement behavior beyond the effects of cognitive skills (p. 431).

By sticking it out through tough times, [people] emerge from adversity with a stronger sense of efficacy (1989, p. 1179).


It is widely assumed that beliefs in personal determination of outcomes create a sense of efficacy and power, whereas beliefs that outcomes occur regardless of what one does result in apathy (p. 413).

In any given instance, behavior can be predicted best by considering both self-efficacy and outcome beliefs . . . different patterns of self-efficacy and outcome beliefs are likely to produce different psychological effects (p. 446).

The effects of outcome expectancies on performance motivation are partly governed by self-beliefs of efficacy (1989, p. 1180).

The degree to which outcome expectations contribute to performance motivation independently of self-efficacy beliefs is partly determined by the structural relation between actions and outcomes in a particular domain of functioning (1989, p. 1180). When variations in perceived self-efficacy are partialed out, the outcomes expected for given performances do not have much of an independent effect on behavior.

Expected outcomes contribute to motivation independently of self-efficacy beliefs when outcomes are not completely controlled by quality of performance. This occurs when extraneous factors also affect outcomes, or outcomes are socially tied to a minimum level of performance so that some variations in quality of performance above and below the standard do not produce differential outcomes (1989, p. 1180).


Self-doubt creates the impetus for learning but hinders adept use of previously established skills (p. 394).

Such self-referent misgivings creates stress and undermine effective use of the competencies people possess by diverting attention from how best to proceed to concern over personal failings and possible mishaps (p. 394).

Misbeliefs in one's inefficacy may retard development of the very subskills upon which more complex performances depend (p. 395).

People who hold a low view of themselves [will credit] their achievements to external factors, rather than to their own capabilities (p. 402).

If self-efficacy is lacking, people tend to behave ineffectually, even though they know what to do (p. 425).


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).

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).


Perceived self-efficacy also shapes causal thinking. In seeking solutions to difficult problems, those who perceived themselves as highly efficacious are inclined to attribute their failures to insufficient effort, whereas those of comparable skills but lower perceived self-efficacy ascribe their failures to deficient ability (p.394-395) see Collins, 1982

[Attributional] factors serve as conveyors of efficacy information that influence performance largely through their intervening effects on self-percepts of efficacy (p. 402).

People infer high self-efficacy from successes achieved through minimal effort on difficult tasks, but they infer low self-efficacy if they had to work hard under favorable conditions to master relatively easy tasks (p. 402).

Perceived self-efficacy influences the types of causal attributions people make for their performances (p. 402) [Collins, 1982--high efficacy kids attribute failure to lack of effort; low efficacy kids attribute failure to lack of ability]

Self efficacious children tend to attribute their successes to ability, but ability attributions affect performance indirectly through perceived self-efficacy (p. 402).

People who hold a low view of themselves [will credit] their achievements to external factors, rather than to their own capabilities (p. 402).

Perceived self-efficacy and beliefs about the locus of outcome causality must be distinguished (p. 413).

Convictions that outcomes are determined by one's own actions can be either demoralizing or heartening, depending on the level of self-judged efficacy. People who regard outcomes as personally determined, but who lack the requisite skills, would experience low self-efficacy and view the activities with a sense of futility (p. 413).


As a general rule, moderate levels of arousal facilitate deployment of skills, whereas high arousal disrupts it. This is especially true of complex activities requiring intricate organization of behavior (p. 407).

People who are burdened by acute misgivings about their coping capabilities suffer much distress and expend much effort in defensive action . . . they cannot get themselves to do things they find subjectively threatening even though they are objectively safe. They may even shun easily manageable activities because they see them as leading to more threatening events over which they will be unable to exercise adequate control (p. 426).

From the social cognitive perspective, it is mainly perceived inefficacy to cope with potentially aversive events that makes them fearsome. To the extent that people believe they can prevent, terminate, or lessen the severity of aversive events, they have little reason to be perturbed by them. But if they believe they are unable to manage threats safely, they have much cause for apprehension (p. 440).

Perceived self-efficacy in coping with potential threats leads people to approach such situations anxiously, and experience of disruptive arousal may further lower their sense of efficacy that they will be able to perform skillfully (p. 444).

People are much more likely to act on their self-percepts of efficacy inferred from many sources of information rather than rely primarily on visceral cues. This is not surprising because self knowledge based on information about one's coping skills, past accomplishments, and social comparison is considerably more indicative of capability than the indefinite stirrings of the viscera (p. 444)

Given a sufficient level of perceived self-efficacy to take on threatening tasks, phobics perform them with varying amounts of fear arousal depending on the strength of their perceived self-efficacy (p. 444).

Perceived self-inefficacy predicts avoidance of academic activities whereas anxiety does not (p. 445).


Students judge how well they might do in a chemistry course from knowing how peers, who performed comparably to them in physics, fared in chemistry (p. 404).

People judge their capabilities partly by comparing their performances with those of others (p. 403).

The performances of others are often selected as standards for self-improvement of abilities (p. 405).

People who are insecure about themselves will avoid social comparisons that are potentially threatening to their self-esteem (p. 405).

People judge their capabilities partly through social comparison with the performances of others (p. 421).

The adequacy of performance attainments depends upon the personal standards against which they are judged (p. 447).

Stringent standards of self-evaluation [can] make otherwise objective successes seem to be personal failures (p. 447).


Reasonably accurate appraisal of one's own capabilities is, therefore, of considerable value in successful functioning. Large misjudgments of personal efficacy in either direction have consequences. People who grossly overestimate their capabilities undertake activities that are clearly beyond their reach. As a result, they get themselves into considerable difficulties, undermine their credibility, and suffer needless failures. Some of the missteps, of course, can produce serious, irreparable harm (p. 394).

People who underestimate their capabilities also bear costs, although, as already noted, these are more likely to take self-limiting rather than aversive forms. By failing to cultivate personal potentialities and constricting their activities, such persons cut themselves off from many rewarding experiences. Should they attempt tasks having evaluative significance, they create internal obstacles to effective performance by approaching them with unnerving self-doubts (p. 394).

Even noteworthy performance attainments do not necessarily boost perceived self-efficacy (p. 401).

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 the experience (p. 401).

People judge their capabilities partly by comparing their performances with those of others (p. 403).

For many activities, people cannot rely solely on themselves in evaluating their ability level because such judgments require inferences from probabilistic indicants of talent about which they may have limited knowledge. Self-appraisals are, therefore, partly based on the opinions of others who presumably possess evaluative competence (p. 405).

The evaluative habits developed in sibling interactions undoubtedly affect the salience and choice of comparative referents in self-ability evaluations in later life (p. 416).

Agemates provide the most informative points of reference for comparative efficacy appraisal and verification. Children are, therefore, especially sensitive to their relative standing among the peers with whom they affiliate in activities that determine prestige and popularity (p. 416).

Self-appraisals are influenced by evaluative reactions of others (p. 420).

How children learn to use diverse sources of efficacy information in developing a stable and accurate sense of personal efficacy is a matter of considerable interest (p. 420).

Incongruities between self-efficacy and action may stem from misperceptions of task demands, as well as from faulty self-knowledge (p. 420).

People judge their capabilities partly through social comparison with the performances of others (p. 421).

Behavior must also be adequately assessed under appropriate circumstances. Ill-defined global measures of perceived self-efficacy or defective assessments of performance will yield discordances. Disparities will also arise when efficacy is judged for performances in actual situations but performance is measured in simulated situations that are easier to deal with than the actualities (p. 397).

Discrepancies between self-efficacy judgment and performance will arise when either the tasks or the circumstances under which they are performed are ambiguous (p. 397).

When people are not aiming for anything in particular or when they cannot monitor their performance, there is little basis for translating perceived efficacy into appropriate magnitudes of effort (p. 398).

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. In the latter situations, if designating feedback is lacking for tasks on which performers cannot judge their output, they are left in foggy ambiguity . . . in most everyday pursuits, such problems do not arise because people have aims in mind, and they do not need others to tell them their performances because they can see for themselves how they are doing (p. 398).

Self-appraisals of efficacy are reasonably accurate, but they diverge from action because people do not know fully what they will have to do, lack information for regulating their effort, or are hindered by external factors from doing what they can (p. 398).

People judge their capabilities partly by comparing their performances with those of others (p. 403).

Comparative appraisals of efficacy require not only evaluation of one;s own performances but also knowledge of how others do, cognizance of nonability determinants of their performances, and some understanding that it is others, like oneself, who provide the most informative social criterion for comparison (p. 421).

A problem of future research is to clarify how young children learn what type of social comparative information is most useful for efficacy evaluation (p. 421).

Such knowledge is probably gained in several ways. One process undoubtedly operates through social comparison of success and failure experiences. Children repeatedly observe their own behavior and the attainments of others (p. 421).

To the extent that children with similar characteristics achieve comparable performance levels, using the performances of similar peers is likely to yield more accurate self-appraisal than using the accomplishments of dissimilar peers (p. 421).

[Children] receive direct instruction from time to time about the appropriateness of various social comparisons (p. 421-422).

Indeed there are many competent people who are plagued by a sense of inefficacy, and many less competent ones who remain unperturbed by impending threats because they are self-assured of their coping capabilities (p. 440).

People behave agentically, but they produce theories that afford people very little agency (APA address, 1998).

One cannot afford to be a realist (APA address, 1998)

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"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

"One cannot afford to be a realist."

~ Albert Bandura ~
Address before the American Psychological Association, 1998

The Professor at Stanford University
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