psychology Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries betwee ...
, self-efficacy is an individual's
belief A belief is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition is true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either true or false. To believe something is to tak ...
in their capacity to act in the ways necessary to reach specific goals. The concept was originally proposed by the psychologist
Albert Bandura Albert Bandura (; December 4, 1925 – July 26, 2021) was a Canadian-American psychologist who was the David Starr Jordan Professor in Psychology at Stanford University. Bandura was responsible for contributions to the field of education and to ...
. Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding their power to affect situations, self-efficacy strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make. These effects are particularly apparent, and compelling, with regard to investment behaviors such as in
health Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity".World Health Organization. (2006)''Constitution of the World Health Organizat ...
education Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty. V ...
, and
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people ...
. A strong sense of self-efficacy promotes human accomplishment and personal
well-being Well-being, or wellbeing, also known as wellness, prudential value or quality of life, refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative ''to'' someone. So the well-being of a person is what is ultimately good ''for'' this person, what is in t ...
. A person with high self-efficacy views challenges as things that are supposed to be mastered rather than threats to avoid. These people are able to recover from failure faster and are more likely to attribute failure to a lack of effort. They approach threatening situations with the belief that they can control them. These things have been linked to lower levels of stress and a lower vulnerability to depression. In contrast, people with a low sense of self-efficacy view difficult tasks as personal threats and shy away from them. Difficult tasks lead them to look at the skills they lack rather than the ones they have. It is easy for them to lose faith in their own abilities after a failure. Low self-efficacy can be linked to higher levels of stress and depression.

Theoretical approaches

Social cognitive theory

Albert Bandura Albert Bandura (; December 4, 1925 – July 26, 2021) was a Canadian-American psychologist who was the David Starr Jordan Professor in Psychology at Stanford University. Bandura was responsible for contributions to the field of education and to ...
has defined self-efficacy as one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One's sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges. The theory of self-efficacy lies at the center of Bandura's social cognitive theory, which emphasizes the role of
observational learning Observational learning is learning that occurs through observing the behavior of others. It is a form of social learning which takes various forms, based on various processes. In humans, this form of learning seems to not need reinforcement to oc ...
and social experience in the development of personality. The main concept in social cognitive theory is that an individual's actions and reactions, including social behaviors and cognitive processes, in almost every situation are influenced by the actions that individual has observed in others. Because self-efficacy is developed from external experiences and self-perception and is influential in determining the outcome of many events, it is an important aspect of social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy represents the personal perception of external social factors. According to Bandura's theory, people with high self-efficacy—that is, those who believe they can perform well—are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

Social learning theory

Social learning theory describes the acquisition of skills that are developed exclusively or primarily within a social group. Social learning depends on how individuals either succeed or fail at dynamic interactions within groups, and promotes the development of individual emotional and practical skills as well as accurate perception of self and acceptance of others. According to this theory, people learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling. Self-efficacy reflects an individual's understanding of what skills he/she can offer in a group setting.

Self-concept theory

Self-concept theory seeks to explain how people perceive and interpret their own existence from clues they receive from external sources, focusing on how these impressions are organized and how they are active throughout life. Successes and failures are closely related to the ways in which people have learned to view themselves and their relationships with others. This theory describes self-concept as learned (i.e., not present at birth); organized (in the way it is applied to the self); and dynamic (i.e., ever-changing, and not fixed at a certain age).

Attribution theory

Attribution theory focuses on how people attribute events and how those beliefs interact with self-perception. Attribution theory defines three major elements of cause: * Locus is the location of the perceived cause. If the locus is internal (dispositional), feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy will be enhanced by success and diminished by failure. *
Stability Stability may refer to: Mathematics * Stability theory, the study of the stability of solutions to differential equations and dynamical systems ** Asymptotic stability ** Linear stability ** Lyapunov stability ** Orbital stability ** Structural st ...
describes whether the cause is perceived as static or dynamic over time. It is closely related to expectations and goals, in that when people attribute their failures to stable factors such as the difficulty of a task, they will expect to fail in that task in the future. * Controllability describes whether a person feels actively in control of the cause. Failing at a task one thinks one cannot control can lead to feelings of humiliation, shame, and/or anger.

Sources of self-efficacy

Mastery experiences

According to Bandura, the most effective way to build self-efficacy is to engage in mastery experiences. These mastery experiences can be defined as a personal experience of success. Achieving difficult goals in the face of adversity helps build confidence and strengthen perseverance.

Vicarious experiences of social models

Another source of self-efficacy is through vicarious experiences of social models. Seeing someone, who you view as similar to yourself, succeed at something difficult can motivate you to believe that you have the skills necessary to achieve a similar goal. However, the inverse of the previous statement is true as well. Seeing someone fail at a task can lead to doubt in personal skills and abilities. "The greater the assumed similarity, the more persuasive are the models' successes and failures."

Belief in success

A third source of self-efficacy is found through strengthening the belief that one has the ability to succeed. Those who are positively persuaded that they have the ability to complete a given task show a greater and more sustained effort to complete a task. It also lowers the effect of self-doubt in a person. However, it is important to remember that those who are doing the encouraging, put the person in a situation where success is more often. If they are put in a situation prematurely with no hope of any success, it can undermine self-efficacy.

How it affects human function

Choices regarding behavior

People generally avoid tasks where self-efficacy is low, but undertake tasks where self-efficacy is high. When self-efficacy is significantly beyond actual ability, it leads to an overestimation of the ability to complete tasks. On the other hand, when self-efficacy is significantly lower than actual ability, it discourages growth and skill development. Research shows that the optimum level of self-efficacy is slightly above ability; in this situation, people are most encouraged to tackle challenging tasks and gain experience. Csikszentmihalyi, M., ''Finding Flow,'' 1997 Self-efficacy is made of dimensions like magnitude, strength, and generality to explain how one believes they will perform on a specific task.


High self-efficacy can affect
motivation Motivation is the reason for which humans and other animals initiate, continue, or terminate a behavior at a given time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-dire ...
in both positive and negative ways. In general, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to make efforts to complete a task, and to persist longer in those efforts, than those with low self-efficacy. The stronger the self-efficacy or mastery expectations, the more active the efforts. A negative effect of low self-efficacy is that it can lead to a state of learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness Learned helplessness is the behavior exhibited by a subject after enduring repeated aversive stimuli beyond their control. It was initially thought to be caused by the subject's acceptance of their powerlessness, by way of their discontinuing att ...
was studied by
Martin Seligman Martin Elias Peter Seligman (; born August 12, 1942) is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books. Seligman is a strong promoter within the scientific community of his theories of positive psychology and of well-being. H ...
in an experiment in which shocks were applied to animals. Through the experiment, it was discovered that the animals placed in a cage where they could escape shocks by moving to a different part of the cage did not attempt to move if they had formerly been placed in a cage in which escape from the shocks was not possible. Low self-efficacy can lead to this state in which it is believed that no amount of effort will make a difference in the success of the task at hand.

Work performance

Self-efficacy theory has been embraced by management scholars and practitioners because of its applicability in the workplace. Overall, self-efficacy is positively and strongly related to work-related performance as measured by the weighted average correlation across 114 selected studies. The strength of the relationship, though, is moderated by both task complexity and environmental context. For more complex tasks, the relationships between self-efficacy and work performance is weaker than for easier work-related tasks. In actual work environments, which are characterized by performance constraints, ambiguous demands, deficient performance feedback, and other complicating factors, the relationship appears weaker than in controlled laboratory settings. The implications of this research is that managers should provide accurate descriptions of tasks and provide clear and concise instructions. Moreover, they should provide the necessary supporting elements, including training employees in developing their self-efficacy in addition to task-related skills, for employees to be successful. It has also been suggested that managers should factor in self-efficacy when trying to decide candidates for developmental or training programs. It has been found that those who are high in self-efficacy learn more which leads to higher job performance. Social cognitive theory explains that employees use five basic capabilities to self influence themselves in order to initiate, regulate and sustain their behavior: symbolizing, forethought, observational, self-regulatory and self reflective.

Thought patterns and responses

Self-efficacy has several effects on thought patterns and responses: * Low self-efficacy can lead people to believe tasks to be harder than they actually are, while high self-efficacy can lead people to believe tasks to be easier than they are. This often results in poor task planning, as well as increased stress. * People become erratic and unpredictable when engaging in a task in which they have low self-efficacy. * People with high self-efficacy tend to take a wider view of a task in order to determine the best plan. * Obstacles often stimulate people with high self-efficacy to greater efforts, where someone with low self-efficacy will tend toward discouragement and giving up. * A person with high self-efficacy will attribute failure to external factors, where a person with low self-efficacy will blame low ability. For example, someone with high self-efficacy in regards to mathematics may attribute a poor test grade to a harder-than-usual test, illness, lack of effort, or insufficient preparation. A person with a low self-efficacy will attribute the result to poor mathematical ability.

Health behaviors

A number of studies on the adoption of health practices have measured self-efficacy to assess its potential to initiate behavior change. With increased self-efficacy, individuals have greater confidence in their ability and thus are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors. Greater engagement in healthy behaviors, result in positive patient health outcomes such as improved quality of life. Choices affecting health (such as
smoking Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke is typically breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Most commonly, the substance used is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant, which have bee ...
physical exercise Exercise is a body activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, develop muscles and the cardiovascular system, hone athletic ...
, dieting, condom use, dental hygiene, seat belt use, and breast self-examination) are dependent on self-efficacy. Self-efficacy beliefs are cognitions that determine whether health behavior change will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and failures. Self-efficacy influences how high people set their health goals (e.g., "I intend to reduce my smoking", or "I intend to quit smoking altogether").

Relationship to locus of control

Bandura showed that difference in self-efficacy correlates to fundamentally different world views. People with high self-efficacy generally believe that they are in control of their own lives, that their own actions and decisions shape their lives, while people with low self-efficacy may see their lives as outside their control. For example, a student with high self-efficacy who does poorly on an exam will likely attribute the failure to the fact that they did not study enough. However, a student with low self-efficacy who does poorly on an exam is likely to believe the cause of that failure was due to the test being too difficult or challenging, which the student does not control.

Factors affecting self-efficacy

Bandura identifies four factors affecting self-efficacy. # Experience, or "enactive attainment" – The experience of mastery is the most important factor determining a person's self-efficacy. Success raises self-efficacy, while failure lowers it. According to psychologist
Erik Erikson Erik Homburger Erikson (born Erik Salomonsen; 15 June 1902 – 12 May 1994) was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. He coined the phrase identity c ...
: "Children cannot be fooled by empty praise and condescending encouragement. They may have to accept artificial bolstering of their self-esteem in lieu of something better, but what I call their accruing ego identity gains real strength only from wholehearted and consistent recognition of real accomplishment, that is, achievement that has meaning in their culture." # Modeling, or " vicarious experience" – Modeling is experienced as, "If they can do it, I can do it as well". When we see someone succeeding, our own self-efficacy increases; where we see people failing, our self-efficacy decreases. This process is most effectual when we see ourselves as similar to the model. Although not as influential as direct experience,
modeling A model is an informative representation of an object, person or system. The term originally denoted the plans of a building in late 16th-century English, and derived via French and Italian ultimately from Latin ''modulus'', a measure. Models c ...
is particularly useful for people who are particularly unsure of themselves. # Social persuasion – Social persuasion generally manifests as direct encouragement or discouragement from another person. Discouragement is generally more effective at decreasing a person's self-efficacy than encouragement is at increasing it. # Physiological factors – In stressful situations, people commonly exhibit signs of distress: shakes, aches and pains, fatigue, fear, nausea, etc. Perceptions of these responses in oneself can markedly alter self-efficacy. Getting "
butterflies in the stomach Butterflies in the stomach is the physical sensation in humans of a "fluttery" feeling in the stomach, caused by a reduction of blood flow to the organ. This is as a result of the release of adrenaline in the fight-or-flight response, which causes ...
" before public speaking will be interpreted by someone with low self-efficacy as a sign of inability, thus decreasing self-efficacy further, where high self-efficacy would lead to interpreting such physiological signs as normal and unrelated to ability. It is one's belief in the implications of physiological response that alters self-efficacy, rather than the physiological response itself.

Genetic and environmental determinants

In a Norwegian twin study, the
heritability Heritability is a statistic used in the fields of breeding and genetics that estimates the degree of ''variation'' in a phenotypic trait in a population that is due to genetic variation between individuals in that population. The concept of he ...
of self-efficacy in adolescents was estimated at 75 percent. The remaining variance, 25 percent, was due to environmental influences not shared between family members. The shared family environment did not contribute to individual differences in self-efficacy. The twins reared-together design may overestimate the effect of genetic influences and underestimate shared environmental influences because variables measured on the family level are modeled to be equal for both twins and thus cannot be separated into genetic and environmental components. Employing an alternative design, namely that of adoptive siblings, Buchanan et al. found significant shared environmental effects.

Theoretical models of behavior

A theoretical model of the effect of self-efficacy on transgressive behavior was developed and verified in research with school children.

Prosociality and moral disengagement

Prosocial behavior (such as helping others, sharing, and being kind and cooperative) and moral disengagement (manifesting in behaviors such as
making excuses Rationalization is a defense mechanism (ego defense) in which apparent logical reasons are given to justify behavior that is motivated by unconscious instinctual impulses. It is an attempt to find reasons for behaviors, especially one's own. Ration ...
for bad behavior, avoiding responsibility for consequences, and
blaming the victim Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as t ...
) are negatively correlated. Academic, social, and self-regulatory self-efficacy encourages prosocial behavior, and thus helps prevent moral disengagement.

Over-efficaciousness in learning

In low-performing students, self-efficacy is not a
self-fulfilling prophecy A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that comes true at least in part as a result of a person's or group of persons' belief or expectation that said prediction would come true. This suggests that people's beliefs influence their actions. T ...
. Over-efficaciousness or 'illusional' efficacy discourages the critical examination of one's practices, therefore inhibiting professional learning. One study, which included 101 lower-division Portuguese students at U.T. Austin, examined the foreign students' beliefs about learning, goal attainment, and motivation to continue with language study. It was concluded that over-efficaciousness negatively affected student motivation, so that students who believed they were "good at languages" had less motivation to study.

Health behavior change

Social-cognitive models of health behavior change cast self-efficacy as predictor, mediator, or moderator. As a predictor, self-efficacy is supposed to facilitate the forming of behavioral intentions, the development of action plans, and the initiation of action. As mediator, self-efficacy can help prevent relapse to unhealthy behavior. As a moderator, self-efficacy can support the translation of intentions into action. See Health action process approach.

Possible applications

Academic contexts

Parents' sense of academic efficacy for their child is linked to their children's scholastic achievement. If the parents have higher perceived academic capabilities and aspirations for their child, the child itself will share those same beliefs. This promotes academic self-efficacy for the child, and in turn, leads to scholastic achievement. It also leads to
prosocial behavior Prosocial behavior, or intent to benefit others, is a social behavior that "benefit other people or society as a whole", "such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating, and volunteering". Obeying the rules and conforming to socially accepted beh ...
, and reduces vulnerability to feelings of futility and depression. There is a relationship between low self-efficacy and depression. In a study, the majority of a group of students questioned felt they had a difficulty with listening in class situations. Instructors then helped strengthen their listening skills by making them aware about how the use of different strategies could produce better outcomes. This way, their levels of self-efficacy were improved as they continued to figure out what strategies worked for them.


Self-efficacy has proven especially useful for helping undergraduate students to gain insights into their career development in
STEM fields Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is an umbrella term used to group together the distinct but related technical disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The term is typically used in the context of ...
. Researchers have reported that mathematics self-efficacy is more predictive of mathematics interest, choice of math-related courses, and math majors than past achievements in math or outcome expectations. Self-efficacy theory has been applied to the career area to examine why women are underrepresented in male-dominated STEM fields such as mathematics, engineering, and science. It was found that gender differences in self-efficacy expectancies importantly influence the career-related behaviors and career choices of young women. Technical self-efficacy was found to be a crucial factor for teaching computer programming to school students, as students with higher levels of technological self-efficacy achieve higher learning outcomes. The effect of technical self-efficacy was found to be even stronger than the effect of gender.


Writing studies research indicates a strong relationship linking perceived self-efficacy to motivation and performance outcomes. Students’ academic accomplishments are inextricably connected to their self-thought of efficacy and constructed motivation within their contexts. The resilient efforts that highly self-efficacious individuals exert usually enable them to face the challenge and produce high-performance achievements. Besides, individuals place more value on the academic activities which they used to achieve success Recent writing research accentuated this connection between writers’ self-efficacy, motivation and efforts offered, and achieving success in writing. In another way, writers with a high level of confidence in their writing capabilities and processes are more willing to work persistently for satisfying and effective writing. In contrast, those who have less sense of efficacy are unable to resist any failure and tend to avoid what they believe it as a painful experience_ writing. There is a causal relationship between self-efficacy beliefs that the writers hold and the accomplishments that they can achieve in their writing. Accordingly, scholars emphasized that writing self-efficacy beliefs are instrumental for making predictions of crafting outcomes. Empirically speaking, there is a study on introductory Composition courses that proved that poor writing is strongly sponsored by the writers’ self-doubts of making effective writing rather than their actual writing capabilities. Self-referent thought is a powerful mediator that links one’s knowledge and actions. Therefore, even when individuals have the required skills and knowledge, their self-referent may continue in hindering their optimal performance. A 1997 study looked at how self-efficacy could influence the writing ability of 5th graders in the United States. Researchers found that there was a direct correlation between students' self-efficacy and their own writing apprehension, essay performance, and perceived usefulness of writing. As the researchers suggest, this study is important because it showed how important it is for teachers to teach skills and also to build confidence in their students. A more recent study was done that seemed to replicate the findings of the previous study quite nicely. This study found that students' beliefs about their own writing did have an impact on their self-efficacy, apprehension, and performance. This is also evident in a different study on collegiate students that reported the change of knowledge seeking as an outcome of their self-efficacy promotion. Thus, students' self-efficacy is predictive of students' production of effective writing. Therefore, increasing their writing positive beliefs resulted in better performance in their writing. Nurturing the participants’ perceived self-efficacy elevated the goals that they used to set up in the writing courses, and this, in turn, promoted their quality of writing and placed more sense of self-satisfaction. Self-regulatory writing is another key determinant associated with writing efficacy and has great influence on writing development. Self-regulation encapsulates the writing dynamism of complexities, time structure, strategies, and whether deficiencies or capabilities. Through self-regulatory efficacy, writers strive toward more self-efficaciousness that effectively impacts their writing attainments


One of the factors most commonly associated with self-efficacy in writing studies is
motivation Motivation is the reason for which humans and other animals initiate, continue, or terminate a behavior at a given time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-dire ...
. Motivation is often divided into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. McLeod suggests that intrinsic motivators tend to be more effective than extrinsic motivators because students then perceive the given task as inherently valuable. Additionally, McCarthy, Meier, and Rinderer explain that writers who are intrinsically motivated tend to be more self-directed, take active control of their writing, and see themselves as more capable of setting and accomplishing goals. Furthermore, writing studies research indicates that self-efficacy influences student choices, effort, persistence, perseverance, thought patterns, and emotional reactions when completing a writing assignment. Students with a high self-efficacy are more likely to attempt and persist in unfamiliar writing tasks.

Performance outcomes

Self-efficacy has often been linked to students' writing performance outcomes. More so than any other element within the cognitive-affective domain, self-efficacy beliefs have proven to be predictive of performance outcomes in writing. In order to assess the relationship between self-efficacy and writing capabilities, several studies have constructed scales to measure students' self-efficacy beliefs. The results of these scales are then compared to student writing samples. The studies included other variables, such as writing anxiety, grade goals, depth of processing, and expected outcomes. However, self-efficacy was the only variable that was a statistically significant predictor of writing performance.

Public speaking

A strong negative relationship has been suggested between levels of speech anxiety and self-efficacy.


As the focus of healthcare continues to transition from the medical model to
health promotion Health promotion is, as stated in the 1986 World Health Organization (WHO) Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, the "process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health." Scope The WHO's 1986 Ottawa Charter for Hea ...
and preventive healthcare, the role of self-efficacy as a potent influence on health behavior and self-care has come under review. According to Luszczynska and Schwarzer, self-efficacy plays a role in influencing the adoption, initiation, and maintenance of healthy behaviors, as well as curbing unhealthy practices. Healthcare providers can integrate self-efficacy interventions into patient education. One method is to provide examples of other people acting on a
health promotion Health promotion is, as stated in the 1986 World Health Organization (WHO) Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, the "process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health." Scope The WHO's 1986 Ottawa Charter for Hea ...
behavior and then work with the patient to encourage their belief in their own ability to change. Furthermore, when nurses followed-up by telephone after hospital discharge, individuals with
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a type of progressive lung disease characterized by long-term respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation. The main symptoms include shortness of breath and a cough, which may or may not produce ...
(COPD) were found to have increased self-efficacy in managing breathing difficulties. In this study, the nurses helped reinforce education and reassured patients regarding their self-care management techniques while in their home environment.

Other contexts

At the National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology in Taiwan, researchers investigated the correlations between general Internet self-efficacy (GISE), Web-specific self-efficacy (WSE), and e-service usage. Researchers concluded that GISE directly affects the WSE of a consumer, which in turn shows a strong correlation with e-service usage. These findings are significant for future consumer targeting and marketing. Furthermore, self-efficacy has been included as one of the four factors of core self-evaluation, one's fundamental appraisal of oneself, along with
locus of control Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives. The concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has sinc ...
neuroticism In the study of psychology, neuroticism has been considered a fundamental personality trait. For example, in the Big Five approach to personality trait theory, individuals with high scores for neuroticism are more likely than average to be mood ...
, and
self-esteem Self-esteem is confidence in one's own worth or abilities. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself (for example, "I am loved", "I am worthy") as well as emotional states, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Smith and Mackie (2007) d ...
. Core self-evaluation has shown to predict
job satisfaction Job satisfaction, employee satisfaction or work satisfaction is a measure of workers' contentedness with their job, whether they like the job or individual aspects or facets of jobs, such as nature of work or supervision. Job satisfaction can be ...
job performance Job performance assesses whether a person performs a job well. Job performance, studied academically as part of industrial and organizational psychology, also forms a part of human resources management. Performance is an important criterion for or ...
. Researchers have also examined self-efficacy in the context of the work–life interface. Chan et al. (2016) developed and validated a measure "self-efficacy to regulate work and life" and defined it as "the belief one has in one's own ability to achieve a balance between work and non-work responsibilities, and to persist and cope with challenges posed by work and non-work demands" (p. 1758). Specifically, Chan et al. (2016) found that "self-efficacy to regulate work and life" helped to explain the relationship between work–family enrichment, work–life balance, and
job satisfaction Job satisfaction, employee satisfaction or work satisfaction is a measure of workers' contentedness with their job, whether they like the job or individual aspects or facets of jobs, such as nature of work or supervision. Job satisfaction can be ...
and family satisfaction. Chan et al. (2017) also found that "self-efficacy to regulate work and life" assists individuals to achieve work–life balance and
work engagement Work engagement is the "harnessing of organization member's selves to their work roles: in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, emotionally and mentally during role performances". Three aspects of work motivation ...
despite the presence of family and work demands.


While self-efficacy is sometimes measured as a whole, as with the General Self-Efficacy Scale, it is also measured in particular functional situations.

Social self-efficacy

Social self-efficacy has been variably defined and measured. According to Smith and Betz, social self-efficacy is "an individual's confidence in her/his ability to engage in the social interactional tasks necessary to initiate and maintain
interpersonal relationship The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclosure, but also in their duration, in t ...
s." They measured social self-efficacy using an instrument of their own devise called the Scale of Perceived Social Self-Efficacy, which measured six domains: (1) making friends, (2) pursuing romantic relationships, (3) social assertiveness, (4) performance in public situations, (5) groups or parties, and (6) giving or receiving help. More recently, it has been suggested that social self-efficacy can also be operationalised in terms of cognitive (confidence in knowing what to do in social situations) and behavioral (confidence in performing in social situations) social self-efficacy. Matsushima and Shiomi measured self-efficacy by focusing on self-confidence about social skill in personal relationship, trust in friends, and trust by friends. Researchers suggest that social self-efficacy is strongly correlated with
shyness Shyness (also called diffidence) is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is around other people. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people; a shy person may simply opt ...
social anxiety Social anxiety is the anxiety and fear specifically linked to being in social settings (i.e., interacting with others). Some categories of disorders associated with social anxiety include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, autism spectrum disorde ...

Academic self-efficacy

Academic self-efficacy refers to the belief that one can successfully engage in and complete course-specific academic tasks, such as accomplishing course aims, satisfactorily completing assignments, achieving a passing grade, and meeting the requirements to continue to pursue one's major course of study.Jimenez Soffa, S. (2006). Inspiring academic confidence in the classroom: An investigation of features of the classroom experience that contribute to the academic self-efficacy of undergraduate women enrolled in gateway courses. Dissertation completed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Various empirical inquiries have been aimed at measuring academic self-efficacy.

Eating self-efficacy

Eating self-efficacy refers to an individual's perceived belief that they can resist the impulse to eat.


Other areas of self-efficacy that have been identified for study include teacher self-efficacy and technological self-efficacy.

Clarifications and distinctions

;Self-efficacy versus Efficacy :Unlike
efficacy Efficacy is the ability to perform a task to a satisfactory or expected degree. The word comes from the same roots as ''effectiveness'', and it has often been used synonymously, although in pharmacology a distinction is now often made between ...
, which is the power to produce an effect—in essence, competence—the term self-efficacy is used, by convention, to refer to the belief (accurate or not) that one has the power to produce that effect by completing a given task or activity related to that competency. Self-efficacy is the belief in one's efficacy. ;Self-efficacy versus Self-esteem :Self-efficacy is the perception of one's own ability to reach a goal; self-esteem is the sense of self-worth. For example, a person who is a terrible rock climber would probably have poor self-efficacy with regard to rock climbing, but this will not affect self-esteem if the person does not rely on rock climbing to determine self-worth. On the other hand, one might have enormous confidence with regard to rock climbing, yet set such a high standard, and base enough of self-worth on rock-climbing skill, that self-esteem is low. Someone who has high self-efficacy in general but is poor at rock climbing might have misplaced confidence, or believe that improvement is possible. ;Self-efficacy versus
Confidence Confidence is a state of being clear-headed either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Confidence comes from a Latin word 'fidere' which means "to trust"; therefore, having ...
:Canadian-American psychologist
Albert Bandura Albert Bandura (; December 4, 1925 – July 26, 2021) was a Canadian-American psychologist who was the David Starr Jordan Professor in Psychology at Stanford University. Bandura was responsible for contributions to the field of education and to ...
describes the difference between self-efficacy and confidence as such:
the construct of self-efficacy differs from the colloquial term 'confidence.' Confidence is a nonspecific term that refers to strength of belief but does not necessarily specify what the certainty is about. I can be supremely confident that I will fail at an endeavor. Perceived self-efficacy refers to belief in one's agentive capabilities, that one can produce given levels of attainment. A self-efficacy belief, therefore, includes both an affirmation of a capability level and the strength of that belief.
;Self-efficacy versus Self-concept :Self-efficacy comprises beliefs of personal capability to perform specific actions. Self-concept is measured more generally and includes the evaluation of such competence and the feelings of self-worth associated with the behaviors in question. In an academic situation, a student's confidence in their ability to write an essay is self-efficacy. Self-concept, on the other hand, could be how a student's level of intelligence affects their beliefs regarding their worth as a person. ;Self-efficacy as part of core self-evaluations :Timothy A. Judge ''et al.'' (2002) has argued that the concepts of
locus of control Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives. The concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has sinc ...
neuroticism In the study of psychology, neuroticism has been considered a fundamental personality trait. For example, in the Big Five approach to personality trait theory, individuals with high scores for neuroticism are more likely than average to be mood ...
, generalized self-efficacy (which differs from Bandura's theory of self-efficacy) and
self-esteem Self-esteem is confidence in one's own worth or abilities. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself (for example, "I am loved", "I am worthy") as well as emotional states, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Smith and Mackie (2007) d ...
are so strongly correlated and exhibit such a high degree of theoretical overlap that they are actually aspects of the same higher order construct, which he calls
core self-evaluations Core self-evaluations (CSE) represent a stable personality trait which encompasses an individual's subconscious, fundamental evaluations about themselves, their own abilities and their own control. People who have high core self-evaluations will ...

See also


;General * * *

Further reading

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