Path Analysis Examining Self-Efficacy and Decision-Making Performance on a Simulated Baseball Task

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between decision-making self-efficacy and decision-making performance in sport. Undergraduate students (N = 78) performed 10 trials of a decision-making task in baseball. Self-efficacy was measured before performing each trial. Decision-making performance was assessed by decision speed and decision accuracy. Path analyses examined the relationships between self-efficacy, residualized past performance, and current performance. The results indicated that self-efficacy was a significant and consistent predictor of decision speed (eight of nine trials), but not decision accuracy (four of nine trials). It was also found that experience does not have a meaningful effect on the relationship between self-efficacy and decision-making performance in sport.

Key words: cognitive, confidence, decision, experience

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The efficacy-performance relationship has been demonstrated in a wide variety of sports, including tennis (Barling & Abel, 1983), hockey (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998; Myers, Payment & Feltz, 2004), diving (Feltz, 1982), and basketball (Wuertle, 1986). Despite the vast body of research on self-efficacy and sport performance, most has focused on physical performance (see Feltz, Short, & Sullivan, 2008; Moritz, Feltz, Fahrbach, & Mack, 2000, for a review). However, sport performance consists of both physical and cognitive components (Thomas, 1994). Moreover, Bandura (1997) stated that "cognitive factors play an influential role in athletic development and functioning" (p. 369). While previous research supported the link between self-efficacy and physical performance, little is known about the predictive validity of serf-efficacy on cognitive performance in sport.

Although the relationship between self-efficacy and cognitive performance has not been studied extensively in sport, there has been substantial research in other areas. For example, several studies have examined the role of serf-efficacy in academic performance. Collins (as cited in Bandura, 1997) conducted a study in which children attempted to solve difficult math problems. The results showed that children with high math efficacy solved more problems, persisted longer after failure, and abandoned the use of incorrect strategies more quickly than children with low math efficacy. Another study involving 230 college undergraduates found that specific self-efficacy significantly predicted academic achievement (Choi, 2005). Overall, a meta-analysis revealed that self-efficacy beliefs account for 14% of the variance in academic achievement (Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991).

Self-efficacy has also been shown to predict cognitive performance in areas outside the classroom. One study found that older adult men with high memory self-efficacy performed better on a test of everyday memory than those with low self-efficacy (McDougall & Kang, 2003). Likewise, self-efficacy significantly predicted problem-solving performance among adults (Artistico, Cervone, & Pezzuti, 2003).

As the link between efficacy and cognitive performance has been supported in other domains, it seems reasonable to explore this relationship in sport. One of the most important cognitive components in sport is decision making (Thomas, 1994). Decision making is a process by which athletes select one preferred action from among two or more options (Tenenbaum, 2004). Decision making is a critical aspect of sport performance, as success depends on choosing the right course of action at the right time and then effectively performing that action (Grehaigne, Godbout, & Bouthier, 2001). Decision making is one type of thought process that can be influenced by self-efficacy beliefs (Feltz, Short, & Sullivan, 2008). Specifically, self-efficacy beliefs can facilitate or impair decision making (Bandura, 1997). Many sports involve a fast-paced, dynamic environment in which athletes have mere seconds, or less, to decide on a course of action. …