What Is Self-Efficacy?

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their capacity to engage in behaviors that will produce a certain result.

If you want to lose weight or change your career path, for example, it ensures you can do the work that’s required.

Having self-efficacy is important as it reflects confidence in your ability to have greater control over your social environment, behavior, and motivation.

What happens if you don’t have self-efficacy?

If you don’t have strong self-efficacy, you won’t believe in yourself. This will be an obstacle on your path to achieving your goals.

Much like confidence, self-efficacy can either propel you to achieve your dreams, if you have them, or hold you back if you don’t.

Let’s explore how self-efficacy came about and whether or not you can increase the amount you’ve had since childhood. 

History Of Self-Efficacy

The psychological theory of self-efficacy erupted out of research by psychologist Albert Bandura.

He realized that there was a tool that affected people but hadn’t been defined. This tool was a belief that everyone has the ability to influence their lives. The concept of self-efficacy was first introduced by Bandura in 1977.

Bandura said that self-efficacy has an impact on the coping behavior you use when you’re in a stressful situation. It also determines how much effort is used to achieve your goals.

What’s interesting is that Bandura held the idea that self-efficacy is self-sustaining. This means that when you work through challenges and problems, you achieve positive experiences that enhance your self-efficacy even more.

Since Bandura brought the concept of self-efficacy to the public in the late 70s, it has become one of the most researched concepts in psychology. 

What’s The Difference Between Self-Efficacy And Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is the overall feeling of your worth or value. It’s focused on being, such as feeling that you’re worthy and acceptable just as you are.

By comparison, self-efficacy is focused on your actions, such as when you feel you can deal with the challenges in front of you to achieve your dreams.

That said, having a good sense of self-worth can boost your self-efficacy, and having strong self-efficacy can make you feel more valuable, so the two concepts do overlap!  

What’s The Difference Between Self-Efficacy And Confidence? 

While self-efficacy is belief in your ability to achieve a specific task or goal once you know what’s required to enjoy success, self-confidence is when you believe in your ability even though you don’t know what’s required of you. You are, however, willing to try to achieve your goal.

Self-efficacy and self-confidence are connected and they work well together. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to control your motivation, behavior, and social environment. 

Do You Have Strong Or Weak Self-Efficacy?

Do You Have Strong Or Weak Self-Efficacy? 

If you have strong self-efficacy, you will display the following:

  • You’ll develop a deep interest in activities in which you participate. 
  • You’ll have a strong commitment to these interests. 
  • You won’t be put down by setbacks, and will be able to recover from them. 
  • You’ll see challenges as tasks to overcome. 

On the other hand, if you have a low sense of self-efficacy, you’ll display the following:

  • You’ll avoid difficult or challenging tasks because you don’t think you are able to complete them. 
  • You’ll concentrate on your failures and the negative outcomes of situations. 
  • You’ll lack confidence in your personal abilities. 

Questions To Ask Yourself To Gauge Your Self-Efficacy

You can assess your self-efficacy by asking yourself questions such as the following:

  • Do you feel you can deal with problems if you are willing to put in hard work to solve them? 
  • Do you feel confident about achieving your goals? 
  • Do you persevere even if the situation is challenging? 
  • Are you resilient when faced with negative or stressful events? 
  • Do you focus on how much progress you’ve made instead of stressing about what you still have to do?
  • Do you stay calm and collected during stressful situations? 

How Does Self-Efficacy Develop?

If you’re battling with low self-efficacy, you’ll know that self-efficacy is not something that crops up out of the blue.

It actually starts developing during childhood. It grows and changes throughout your life, but it is influenced by various factors.

These factors can be of the personal or interpersonal variety. There are basically four main ways in which self-efficacy develops.

Mastery Experiences

These experiences refer to when you complete a task successfully or master it. It’s a boost to yourself, which is an effective way to encourage greater self-efficacy. 

However, it’s worth noting that if you only ever find it easy to succeed this could come back to bite you. When you later experience obstacles or challenging situations, you might feel discouraged. 

This is why fostering greater resilience within yourself is an essential element of self-efficacy.

For example, when you reframe failure and see it as a way to gain more information and knowledge about what you need to achieve your goals, you will use setbacks in a constructive way.

Social Modelling

When you see other people achieve a task successfully, this is also a source of self-efficacy. This is because it can boost your own beliefs about yourself and your success.

If you can see and interact with people that you can relate to, this can inspire you to overcome obstacles to succeed in life. 

Social Persuasion

You can be persuaded to believe that you have the ability to succeed at your tasks.

An example of social persuasion is when you feel you can’t achieve your goal but someone gives you encouraging words to help you change your belief.

This is why it’s so valuable to be surrounded by supportive and wholesome loved ones!

Psychological Responses

These responses refer to your responses and emotional reactions to situations. These include your physical reactions, stress levels, and moods, as these affect how you feel about your abilities and skills.

For example, if you feel confident and calm before having to speak in public, it’s a sign you have high self-efficacy.

That said, it’s important to note that how you perceive the responses is more important than the actual responses themselves. 

The good news about self-efficacy is that it’s a skill. If you’re not born with it or it doesn’t develop during childhood, you can keep improving and building on it. 

Tips To Build Self-Efficacy

Tips To Build Self-Efficacy

If you want to improve your self-efficacy, there are ways in which you can achieve this.

  • Follow the example of others. You can learn from what others do and this will inspire you to achieve your own goals. 
  • Get feedback. Sometimes we don’t get feedback on a job well done. While we might not think it’s important, feedback can be a valuable way to boost your self-efficacy. Research has also found that self-efficacy and task performance improve after you receive high and detailed performance feedback.
  • Celebrate your successes. It’s important to focus on the powerful beliefs you experience when you succeed at a task. You should also set goals that you can achieve but which require some hard work so that you will gain an increased sense of confidence afterward.
  • Look for positive affirmations from others. When you’re sticking to a healthier eating plan and your doctor tells you that you’re doing really well, this can make you feel better and want to work harder to achieve your weight-loss goals. Similarly, when your friend tells you that you’re so brave after you go through a difficult situation, you will have an increased sense of self-efficacy.
  • Focus on your thoughts and feelings. It’s important to be more self-aware when it comes to what you think and feel, as doing this will help you to gain more control over your thoughts and feelings. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, you could find ways to reduce or eliminate that stress, such as via meditation or aromatherapy. Similarly, if you find your mind turns to negative thoughts about yourself, make a conscious effort to turn those thoughts into more positive ones.
  • Create a growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, this can cause you to give up when you’re faced with challenges. By comparison, a growth mindset allows you to view challenges as an opportunity to grow and learn from them. 

How Can Self-Efficacy Change Your Life?

  • It’s interesting to note that if you have high levels of self-efficacy you will do better in your career and at school. This is because you will have a positive mindset and high levels of confidence. By comparison, having a low self-efficacy means that you might fall behind or battle to deal with the challenges in front of you.
  • Self-efficacy also affects your health. Having a higher level of self-efficacy means you’ll believe you can achieve your goals, such as quitting smoking, eating healthier, or losing weight. If you don’t have good self-efficacy, you might battle to achieve these goals or remain motivated to achieve them.
  • High self-efficacy can help you manage health conditions. In a study that sought to evaluate the impact of self-efficacy on one’s health status and quality of life in relation to COPD pulmonary rehabilitation, researchers found that having a higher level of self-efficacy predicted improved physical activity, quality of life, and health status. It also decreased the psychosocial impact of the disease.
  • High self-efficacy can make you lead a more positive life. A study found that the self-efficacy of young adults predicts their life satisfaction, and life satisfaction is connected to having positive thinking and optimism. The study also mentions other studies that found having positive self-efficacy beliefs can affect your health. This is because they reduce stress.

What Are Some Examples Of Self-Efficacy?

What Are Some Examples Of Self-Efficacy?
  • A person who has high self-efficacy and is trying to lose weight will stick to their fitness and dietary plan without a loss of motivation. The reason is that they believe that they can succeed, which empowers them to take the necessary actions to achieve their goals.
  • A person who has been diagnosed with a health condition such as diabetes won’t allow themselves to descend into a spiral of worry or depression. Instead, they will feel confident that they know what is wrong with them and that they can better manage their health. They will also feel empowered to follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor to make positive changes to their life.
  • A person who has lost their job will feel positive about finding a new one. They might even be inspired to explore a different career choice knowing that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.

Having low self-efficacy means that you might be overwhelmed by the problem or challenge you face, with the result that you might not even feel confident enough to set goals or dreams for yourself, or work on taking action to achieve them.

You might be so fearful of failure that you don’t even want to risk it happening to you, which can reduce the quality of your life. 

Related Questions 

What are imaginal experiences?

These are visualizations when you imagine doing something well or poorly. They can be powerful to help you build self-efficacy.

How can you do verbal persuasion for yourself?

You can easily give yourself a bit of verbal persuasion.

Tell yourself, “I can do this” or “You got this!” so that you boost your sense of ability and confidence. You can also make use of positive affirmations. 


Having a good level of self-efficacy will affect your life in positive ways.

In this article, we’ve featured everything you need to know about self-efficacy, including how to increase your self-efficacy levels so that you can take the action that’s required to achieve your goals and stay motivated. 


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