Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is a widely accepted method in psychology which helps us develop confidence in ourselves.

Developed in the late 90s by Albert Bandura, the self-efficacy theory attempts to explain why people deal with challenges differently. Ever wondered why some of us are more apt to deal with failure and setbacks, where others find themselves panicking? The answer is different levels of self-efficacy.

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Sometimes self-efficacy can often be confused with self-esteem because it is an optimistic belief in ourselves. When we believe in our competences, chances of completing a task to a high level, or produce a favorable outcome, we become more likely to achieve those outcomes.

Self-efficacy is important because of the power of our own beliefs. It is a huge determining factor in our futures because if you believe in yourself, you are much more likely to be successful than if you don’t.

Self-efficacy can affect you in one of two ways. You may have too much and overestimate yourself, or you may have too little and can achieve more than you think. By aligning your beliefs with your tasks, you have a higher chance of working more effectively and to a higher standard.

Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory

There are many theories for the development of self-efficacy and the most popular theory was created by Albert Bandura in 1999.

Bandura’s theory proposed four sources of self-efficacy:

1. Mastery experiences;

According to Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy, mastery experiences are gained when we succeed in a new challenge. This is why the best way to learn a new skill is to keep practicing. When we do this, we teach ourselves we can learn new skills and capable of putting in the required work.

2. Vicarious Experiences;

Vicarious experiences are simply things we learn from a teacher, mentor, or role model. Positive role models with healthy levels of self-efficacy teach us to believe in ourselves, also. In self-efficacy theory, vicarious experiences may be from family members, teachers, coaches, or counselors. Usually, they are those we see as important and who have an impact on our day-to-day lives.

3. Verbal Persuasion;

Verbal persuasion is another kind of vicarious experience but relates to what we are told as children. When we have an important role-model telling us we are capable of anything and can face any challenge, we are more likely to retain this belief. This helps us at the moment by motivating us at the time but also in the future. We remember the challenges we faced and remember that we are capable of facing the next one.

4. Emotional and Psychological States

In Bandura’s theory, emotional and psychological states refer to the importance of health and well-being in the development of self-efficacy. When our health is low, it is more difficult to feel confident in our abilities. It is also hard to maintain self-efficacy when battling with anxiety or depression.

Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy highlights the importance of self-care.

Can we test for self-efficacy?

It is possible to measure self-efficacy, but as an almost abstract psychological theory, it can be difficult. There are a few different ways to test your self-efficacy.  Most psychologists, however, recommending testing areas of self-efficacy as a whole rather than as a whole. There are a few self-efficacy theories with different tests and measures.

How Can We Improve Our Self-Efficacy?

Although a lot of our self-efficacy is developed through childhood, it is entirely possible to improve it as an adult.

1. Always have a goal

Setting goals is the key to self-efficacy becasue goal setting helps you to push yourself and learn where your risk limits are. As we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, we become more comfortable with unknown situations. The successes we achieve in these situations help us build a stronger picture of what our competencies are.

On the other hand, when we have setbacks, we build more resilience for future challenges.

2. Have different kinds of goals

By having varying degrees of difficulty in our goals, you can build your self-efficacy slowly. Taking low-risk tasks, to begin with, can help build your confidence in your ability to attack higher risks challenges. By enjoying small successes, bigger goals seem more manageable and attainable.

3. Look at the wider picture

Those with higher levels of self-efficacy can look at the wider picture and, therefore, beyond the short-term setbacks. Sometimes, you need to take one step back to take two forward. Self-efficacy allows us to plan for these setbacks and account time for them when planning our projects.

4. Reassess complications

Self-efficacy is a useful tool in reassessing setbacks, complications, and roadblocks. By putting these issues into a different frame, you can begin to view them differently as something to learn from. Failure is inevitable, but it’s also unimportant. What is important is how we choose to deal with it and what we learn from it in the long-term.

Building self-efficacy is a long process because it can take years to reframe your mind to see failure as something to build success on. However, with Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, we can develop a better understanding of ourselves and what we need to do to improve.



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