Re-Conceptualizing the Self-Efficacy Paradigm: Analysis of an Eight-Year Study

Article excerpt

Traditional Views of Efficacy

In organizational climates where achievement is encouraged, a sense of efficacy exists which suggests that individuals assume personal responsibility for success; individuals in this type of an environment believe that what they do is important.

The efficacy concept is based on the belief that one can have success in execution of a behavior to reach a given outcome (Driscoll, 1986). Individuals with a strong sense of efficacy establish a positive attitude toward themselves and toward their responsibilities.

Efficacy is a relatively new term but the idea has been around for a long time; it acts as a mediator in the way one performs and in the way one achieves. Originality, this perception was categorized as self-esteem (one's belief that s/he is a worthwhile and deserving individual). Bandura (1982), a social-learning theorist, believed that performance was more than self-deference. He theorized that most people learn behaviors by observing others and then modeling the behaviors they perceive to be effective. This type of observational learning contrasts noticeably with the process of learning through direct reinforcement. He characterized this phenomenon as "efficacy."

Bandura further differentiated self-efficacy from self-esteem, identifying self-efficacy as being more task or situation specific. For example, an individual may be extremely enthusiastic about waxing a new car (positive self-image), but may be less than stimulated to paint the house.

In his research, Bandura (1982) identified four different sources of self-efficacy beliefs.

* Past accomplishments--This concept maintains that personal feelings of self-efficacy are increased from past instances of successful behavior. The antithesis of this is that personal feelings of self-efficacy decline from past instances of failure. For example, if an individual is put in charge of a difficult task, efficacy will increase if the individual can relate the task to a similar situation in which the person was successful (success by association). Conversely, if a person is given a task in which s/he has a track record of failure achieving a high degree of efficacy would be difficult (failure by association).

* Observance of others--this principle contends that watching one or more persons perform successfully on a task will increase personal efficacy with regard to the same or similar task. For example, administrators will often select a top performer to serve as a model for someone new. By doing this, the new person will see first-hand what successful implementation is. This concept closely follows Combs' (1973) perceiving, behaving, and becoming theory of development. It is vital that the person serving as a model be perceived as both credible and comparable in reference to personal characteristics of the observer.

* Verbal persuasion--Sometimes it becomes necessary to reassure individuals that they can be successful at a task. Successful men talk of their wives as being the backbone of their success. A boxer has "the-man-in-the-corner" who tries to urge his fighter on to victory. Many successful athletes feed off the encouragement of crowds. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a personal fitness trainer know the value of someone who coaches us to do one more sit-up or one more leg lift. Again a supporter who demonstrates credibility and trustworthiness maintains the best chance of convincing someone else to be successful.

* Logical verification--Change always attracts speculation, especially if change is paralleled by a commitment shortage. With knowledge doubling every eight months or so, performance must change to keep up with changing times. Logical verification proposes that self-efficacy can be increased in a logical relationship between what one does and what one is expected to do can be demonstrated. For example, many of us have made the transition from paper and pencil writing, to basic typewriters with carbons, to typewriters with corrective ribbon, to typewriters with memory capacity, to computers with word processor. …