What is Self Efficacy? (A complete overview)

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In this blog we have answered the question ‘what is Self Efficacy’ And have given an insight into Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy..

‘Before you can win, you have to believe you are worthy’. 

There are people who are self-sufficient.

And then there are people who are still juggling with emotions and judgements made by others. Judgements about them and their capacities. 

What is self efficacy?

Self efficacy is the belief that ‘I am sufficient for myself’ and I do not require others to tell me that ‘I can’. Life has been famous for hurtling challenges at us. Each challenge may pull us down or it may make us rise.

It is not the quality of the challenge to determine how we face or deal with it. It is the quality of the person himself. 

So what is self efficacy? Self efficacy is knowing yourself from within, accepting the way you are, being fond of it and keeping on modifying it for self improvement.

So much so that goal setting process becomes a path of achieving the best of oneself and the best of the situation as well. 

Albert Bandura gave the central concept of Self Efficacy through his Social Cognitive Theory.

This theory emphasizes on the role of the following in developing a personality. 

Observational learning

Social experience

Reciprocal Determinism 

According to Bandura, self esteem is composed of 1) attitudes 2) abilities 3) cognitive skills.

Self esteem plays a pivotal role in the way situations are perceived and the response of the person to these varied situations. 

Therefore, self efficacy and self esteem are detrimental for each other. 

Bandura believes that, “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” simply, it is the belief of the person to succeed in a situation.

These are the determinants of how people think, behave and feel.

Historically, the rise of the concept of self efficacy came in 1977 when Bandura published his seminal paper, “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change.” This thus became one of the most studied topics in Psychology. 

Importance of the concept of Self Efficacy

Self-Efficacy is a vital concept, because it impacts everything from psychological states to behavior modification.

Our credence in our own ability to succeed determines how we think, the way we act and how we feel about our place in the world.

It also helps us to reflect on our own performance. 

Reflection is an important part of self-efficacy, because it gives us a chance to ‘look within’ and those people who can reflect effectively, are the ones who are able to learn, modify, re learn and succeed.

It is an integral niche in the domain of self efficacy. 

Sources of Self Efficacy

According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy:

1. Mastery Experiences

The first source of Self-Efficacy is through mastery experiences.

Effort and perseverance help to overcome obstacles that undermine a person’s ability to achieve.

Successfully mastering a task raises self esteem and subsequently influences self-efficacy.

Failure to achieve a goal or even unable to control an environment, negatively impacts the efficacy belief.

2. Vicarious Experiences

Every person should have a role model. Why? Because having a role model enables us to aspire.

And aspiring to be like someone, possessing their qualities and wanting to be ‘like them’ gives us a chance to probe and polish our capabilities, so that we too may be successful.

Having a role model is one of the most powerful ways of educating oneself.

3. Verbal Persuasion

There are people in our lives whose words mean the world to us. These can be our parents, teachers, a friend or any significant other.

Their telling us that we are worthy and have the ability to achieve, is one of the most significant sources of self-efficacy.

Automatically raising our belief in ourselves, because there is someone who believes in us too.

Therefore, the boost that confidence needs and the burst of positive emotions will lead to achieving our self-efficacy goals.

4. Emotional and Physiological States

Our physiology directly influences our emotions and vice versa.

If a person is suffering from anxiety or depression, then he is vulnerable to all the negativity that will emanate and makes him start to judge himself.

Positive emotions will boost self confidence, thus, giving rise to the best of his performances.   

James Maddux, a psychologist, suggested a 5th route to self-efficacy.

The Imaginal Experiences. This is the art of imagining oneself succeeding or winning a situation. 

Developing self-efficacy 

Self-efficacy develops in early childhood when we experience things and situations in our environment and it keeps on evolving throughout our life as we acquire new skills, experiences, and understanding.

Self-Efficacy and Self-Regulation

The two can be simultaneously developed—particularly through modeling—but they remain distinct constructs (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007).

Self-regulation refers to an individual’s “self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are systematically designed to affect one’s learning” (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007), while self-efficacy is more closely associated with an individual’s perceived abilities.

Self-regulation is an approach for achieving one’s goals, especially in relation to learning, whereas self-efficacy is the belief that he can succeed.

Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Esteem

Both are individual concepts, but both feed onto each other as well. Self-esteem is conceptualized as a sort of general or overall feeling of one’s worth or value (Neill, 2005).

While self-esteem is more attentive on “being” like feeling that ‘I am great the way I am.’(e.g., feeling that you are perfectly acceptable as you are, self-efficacy is more focused on “doing” like ‘being up to a challenge.’

Self-Efficacy and Motivation

self-efficacy and motivation are again, inter-related, keeping themselves unique for each other at the same time.

Self-efficacy is believing in oneself and his capability. motivation is the individual’s desire to achieve.

When one is high the other is also high and lacking the motivation dwindles the person’s self-efficacy as well.

.Still, it is true that when an individual gains or maintains self-efficacy through the experience of success—however small—they generally get a boost in motivation to continue learning and making progress (Mayer, 2010). 

Self-Efficacy and Resilience

Resilience is the capacity of the individual to bounce back into shape after a tough experience.

When a person has achieved self-efficacy, he is the one who can tough out the wrinkles in life as well.

Meeting and overcoming obstacles, shaping back into himself and still moving and thinking that he is worthy of great things; is the prime of a person who has achieved self-efficacy.

Recovering from setbacks and still positively impacting the environment, is what self-efficacy is about.

 Self-Efficacy and Confidence

In the words of Albert Bandura, “Just as with self-esteem and motivation, self-efficacy and confidence can work in a positive cycle: the more confident a person is in his abilities, the more likely he is to succeed, which provides him with experiences to develop his self-efficacy.” 

A positive cycle is thus formed when confidence gives rise to self-efficacy and this in turn ups the confidence of the individual.

Examples of High Self-Efficacy

In real life high self-efficacy can manifest as one or more of the following: –

1.     A student who has performed on an average all her life, and does not possess a natural flair of a particular task, still believes that she can accomplish it because she believes in her ability to learn.

2.      A person who is gravely ill still believes that he can accomplish good health by following the doctor’s advice.

3.      A student can sit confidently for a test because he believes in his ability to work hard and learn.

4.      A person who has taken up a job right out of college and still believes that she can meet the demands of the work with dedicated perseverance.

5.      Even going on a diet is an example of self-efficacy.

6.      A woman during pregnancy believing that she is capable of giving birth and raising her child.

7.      Giving up alcohol.

8.      Pain management.

9.      Quitting smoking.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy: 

  • 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 disappointments
  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered

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

Building Self-Efficacy

Let’s start by incorporating Bandura’s self-efficacy point senior life. 

  1. Celebrate Your Success
  1. Observe Others
  1. Seek Positive Affirmations
  1. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Emotions

Evaluating the Self-Efficacy Strength

There are a number of different scales that are used to evaluate levels of self-efficacy including the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) and the Self-Efficacy Questionnaire.

For a quick, informal assessment of your own self-efficacy levels, consider answering the following questions:

  1. Do you feel like you can handle problems if you are willing to work hard?
  2. Are you confident in your ability to achieve your goals?
  3. Do you feel like you can manage unexpected events that come up?
  4. Are you able to bounce back fairly quickly after stressful events?
  5. Do you feel like you can come up with solutions when you are facing a problem?
  6. Do you keep trying even when things seem difficult?
  7. Are you good at staying calm even in the face of chaos?
  8. Do you perform well even under pressure?
  9. Do you tend to focus on your progress rather than getting overwhelmed by all you still have to do?
  10. Do you believe that hard work will eventually pay off?

If you can answer yes to many or most of these questions, then chances are good that you have a fairly strong sense of self-efficacy.3 If you feel like your self-efficacy could use a boost, consider some of the following strategies for improving your sense of efficacy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the concept of self efficacy?

The concept of Self-efficacy means a person’s faith or ability in his capacity to execute the necessary functions, to believe that he or she can achieve.

What is the importance of self efficacy?

The importance of self-efficacy means that we can overcome the hurdles that are there in life and achieve our desired target. It propels the person into action.

What are the 4 sources of self efficacy?

The 4 sources of self-efficacy are 
– Mastery experiences;

– Vicarious experiences;

– Verbal persuasion;

– Emotional and physiological states 

Is self efficacy the same as self confidence?

Confidence and self-efficacy support each other. Confidence means having faith in doing things, being bold of one’s own skills and self-efficacy supports this by believing in one’s own abilities to make things happen.  

What causes low self efficacy?

The causes of low self-efficacy is a troublesome childhood, parents who are overpowering and critical, low academic performance and continuous stresses in life.  

Titles to Read

  • Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The exercise of control. New York:
  • W.H.Freeman and Company.Emory University, Division of Educational Studies, Information on Self-Efficacy: A Community of Scholars.
  • Snyder & S.J. Lopez, (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 227-287). New York: Oxford University Press.


  • https://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/self-efficacy.htmlMaddux, J.E. (2005). Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In C.R
  • https://www.apa.org/pi/aids/resources/education/self-efficacy
  • https://positivepsychology.org.uk/self-efficacy-definition-bandura-meaning/

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