By Udeet Datta & Sam Marquez
The Theory: Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief about “how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations”1. A person’s self-efficacy plays a part in determining whether he/she will be able to exhibit coping behavior, and the duration for this, when faced with adversity. For example, a person possessing higher self-efficacy believes in their ability to cope with challenges, so they are more likely to persist because they believe they can succeed. A person with low self-efficacy, in turn, lacks confidence in their ability to overcome challenges and are hence more likely to concede defeat earlier.
The Verdict: True
What does the research say?
- Self-efficacy has been shown to affect people’s choices, motivation, and performance. For example, people generally avoid tasks where self-efficacy is low (as doing something where you expect to fail is not a great value proposition). By contrast, people undertake tasks where their self-efficacy is high. Research2 into the ‘flow’ state of mind has shown that the ideal range is slightly above current ability – allowing us to undertake tasks that stretch our abilities, but still feel confident in our ability to overcome challenges.
- Self-efficacy has also been shown to be strongly and positively correlated3 to work performance. The good news is that self-efficacy can be increased. To help employees develop self-efficacy, we should not only develop their skills, but also focus on enhancing their beliefs about their ability to use those skills.
- Bandura, Albert (1982). “Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency”. American Psychologist. 37 (2): 122–147.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M., Finding Flow, 1997
- Stajkovic, Alex & Luthans, Fred. (1998). Self-Efficacy And Work-Related Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 124. 240-261. 10.1037/0033-2909.124.2.240.