Self-efficacy and Motivation

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Self-Efficacy and Motivation
By Renee Jones

When people identify themselves as possessing a particular skill, talent, or capability, they are said to have “self-efficacy” regarding that ability. To have self-efficacy is to know or believe that you can have the ability to perform and achieve. Self-efficacy is not the same as self-confidence, but can lead to it in different areas on one’s life. For example, one can have a sense of self-efficacy in their ability to do math. This knowledge can come from past successes, praise and recognition from others, or a sense of comfort and flow as one performs the task with ease. Usually a person is a good judge of their efficacy in a given area, but sometimes they have been given a false sense of their talent as in the case where a parent tells their child they are a beautiful singer, even if they can’t carry a tune. The Stanford psychologist and professor, Albert Bandura, is the founder of the theories of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is an important aspect of motivation; self-efficacy is the belief or view that one has about his ability to achieve. What one believes about his abilities is powerfully linked to the amount of effort he will put forth to accomplish a task or goal. In effect, awareness and assuredness in one’s ability can drive one toward action. According to Bandura, people are more likely to engage in behaviors and face challenges when they believe they are capable of performing the behaviors or objectives successfully. There is a distinction between self-efficacy and self-esteem in that one’s self-esteem is a fairly steady state, and not associated with any particular objective or ability. Self-efficacy is one’s perceived ability to do a certain thing. For example, someone can have high self-esteem, but they may not perceive themselves to have the ability to play basketball. They will probably not exert much effort to the goal of being a great basketball player, because they simply do not see it as their strong suit, and may consider it a waste of time.

Self-efficacy affects one’s choices of activities, their goals, effort and persistence, and learning and achievement. As in the basketball example above, one chooses activity that they believe they can be successful at doing. Individuals set goals based on what level of achievement they believe they can attain. If one believes they are only “cut out” for low level work or to be a follower, not a leader, they will not set their goals for the corner office. Self-efficacy is a major determinant of how much effort one puts forth, and their persistence in the face of adversity and setbacks. With high self-efficacy, one tends to work more effectively, study more efficiently, and to delay-gratification while in pursuit of their goals, therefore, they can learn and achieve more. Without a sense of self-efficacy, people can be both distracted and paralyzed from reaching toward achievements.