Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Self Confidence, and the Ability to Influence

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Self Confidence, and the Ability to Influence

Article excerpt


Self confidence and its role in allowing people to persuade others to undertake actions, including purchase decisions, has been an area of research interest for several decades in the social psychology, marketing and management literatures (Bandura, 1977; Chemers et al., 2000). Research has found that leaders in organizations tend be more self confident, having stronger beliefs in their own abilities and opinions, allowing them to more effectively guide and manage employees (Bandura, 1988; Luthans and Peterson, 2002; Schyns and Sczesny, 2010). This paper explores whether self confidence plays such an important role outside of formal organizational contexts. We propose that people with social self confidence will emerge as natural leaders within any social context, directly influencing the purchasing behaviour of those around them.


Self confidence has been defined in a number of ways throughout the literature. These definitions generally involve belief in one's own abilities to perform (Bandura, 1977; Chemers, et al., 2000; Clark et al., 2008). The more generalised form of self confidence, where there is a generalised belief in one's ability, is theoretically distinct from the specific form of self confidence as used in this research; general self confidence is better defined as self esteem. Self esteem is an emotions-based assessment about one's self worth or value (Erol and Orth, 2011). The value judgement is self directed, that is, one feels oneself is of value, but the personal judgement is often externally driven (Park and Crocker, 2005). Self esteem is believed to have a basis in genetics and experiences during key phases of personal and physical development (Bandura, 1993; Erol and Orth, 2011).

The self confidence of interest to this study is task specific; with self confidence being a belief in one's ability to undertake a specific action to achieve an outcome (Bandura, 1977; Chemers, et al., 2000). For example, having the belief that one can search for information to support a purchase decision would be described as information search self confidence. This specific form of self confidence is believed to have a relationship with self esteem, but can develop independently as a consequence of experiences related to that specific task (Bandura, 1977, 1988; Park and Crocker, 2005). As people learn and undertake decisions they gain specific feedback about their abilities and thus develop the beliefs in those abilities, with those beliefs described as self confidence (Park et al., 2007).

Task specific definitions of self confidence often arise from the need to address a particular research context, in the example given, a purchase decision. In all cases the definition addresses the belief in one's ability (Bandura, 1988, 1993). As this research is examining specifically interpersonal influence for purchase decisions the self confidence of interest for this research is social self confidence.


Social self confidence, sometimes termed social self efficacy, is a strong belief in one's ability to interact in social settings to build and/or maintain interpersonal ties (Bandura, 1993; Gecas, 1989; Paridon et al., 2006; Wright, 1975). People with low social self confidence tend to be more susceptible to the influence of others (Gecas, 1989; Pool et al., 1998). This suggests low levels of confidence place a person into a subordinate position to others, and hence follow the behaviour of others in an attempt to be socially accepted. The reverse has received little attention (Chelminski and Coulter, 2007; Soyeon, 1996). How higher levels of social self confidence may lead a person to emerge as natural leader with an ability to influence the decisions of others remains unexplored.

Organizational literature has examined the role of self confidence in supporting leadership ability in formal management roles. …

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