Bandura (1997) claimed that “people’s level of motivation, affective state and action are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively true” (p.2). Self-efficacy is the belief in the capability to carry out an effective behaviour and produce the desirable outcome. Self-efficacy influences the level of effort, motivation, resilience, perseverance and commitment to solve problems, cope and achieve goals.
1.Mastery experience: Simply put, successful experiences boost self-efficacy, while failures erode it.
When you perceive the outcome of your action as successful and beneficial, it will increases your belief in your capacities to perform that specific behaviour. You will probably also feel more comfortable and competent to perform other tasks of a similar nature. The more successes you will experience, the stronger the belief will become in your abilities to achieve what you desire. Similarly, repetitive failures will yield lower self-efficacy, doubts and less effort to perform that behaviour.
The simplest booster is to focus on the successes. Many times, especially if one is depressed, positive experiences and outcomes are ignored or taken for granted. Keep a journal of your daily accomplishments. Writing down even the smallest positive outcome of any behaviour will help you realize what you can do. Eventually, a positive cluster of achievements and capacities will be apparent to you, which undoubtedly will improve the way in which you evaluate your efficacy. Writing things down will not only enable you to notice and remember but also analyze your behaviour in more detail. The memory of past problems enables us to generate solutions to similar problems. Analyze the knowledge gained each time, realize your strength and what you can improve on for next time and think about what it tells you about your abilities to succeed. Gather strength from your own accomplishments.
It is important to be ambitious and aim high but it is also important to be realistic. If you aim too high you’ll risk frequent failure and at the same time, if you aim too low, you are not achieving anything that will enhance your self-efficacy. The trick is to aim just right, to think in small steps and in short term. Break down your goal into small manageable components. The goals have to be concrete and specific so it will be easier for you to achieve them. The successful achievement of each short term step will increase your self-efficacy and will enhance your motivation and effort, which will eventually enable you to achieve your long term goal. When you actually see the compilation of all that you have achieved, your sense of mastery will rise. It is also important to realize that failure is a possibility, but if you focus on your repeated successes, increase your effort, learn from past experiences and maintain faith in your abilities, you shall overcome the obstacles and achieve your goals.
2.Vicarious experience – Nothing is impossible if someone else has already done it, right?
Take advantage of our human tendency to compare ourselves to others. Realizing that others, who are like you and have similar capacities, have done it will boost your own self-efficacy. Look around and find people who are similar to you and who have succeeded in achieving what you want. Learn for them and from their experiences. How did they do it? What can you adapt from them and how can you improve it? What can you learn from the way they solved the obstacles in their path? These few answers will already increase you confidence in your ability to achieve your desirable goal and in your chosen action plan, as it was already proven to work successfully. It even has a preventative function as you will be confident in your ability to avoid those problems ahead of time or at least be well prepared. Vicarious experience is the reason why seeing a before and after ads of regular people is so motivating to buy that diet product or why people prefer to go to support groups and be surrounded by others who are just like them. A too overloaded boost of self-efficacy as a result of comparison with others will get you singing “Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you”…. but I digress.
3.Verbal persuasion – What other people say about us and our abilities has influence on what we believe.
If people in your surrounding believe in you, support, compliment your abilities; you will be inclined to believe them, which in turn will lift up your self-efficacy. Positive feedbacks, compliments and congratulations should be cherished and even written down in a journal in order to reinforce their effects. Surround yourself with people who support, encourage, appreciate and respect you. Surround yourself also with people, from whom you can learn and who will motivate you to increase your efforts to achieve your goals and/or become a better version of yourself. Feedback and encouragement from others, especially people you respect and love can really boost your self-efficacy to new levels. It should be mentioned, that it is also our human nature to remember negative feedback much more than positive ones. Negative comments can indeed damage your self-efficacy, so make a conscious decision to keep track of all the positive remarks and use the negative feedback not as a discouragement but as a motivational force to improve and in some cases even to prove others otherwise.
4.Emotional arousal– It is a fact that positive mood will enhance performance and belief in your own capacities, while a negative mood(e.g high anxiety and agitation) will weaken it.
A surrounding in which you experience little anxiety and stress will improve your performance , success and will enhance your self-efficacy. Doing an activity that gives you pleasure and is associated with positive emotions will definite also help increase performance levels and self-efficacy. You should apply various relaxation methods in situations in which you are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Try to find what works for you to reduce physical arousal such as yoga, meditation, sports etc. The reduction of anxiety and stress will help you feel more in control and more self-efficacious.
Self-efficacy beliefs depend thus on the interpretations and judgments that you have from the various information sources that you receive. Self-efficacy levels can be altered with a slight change of cognitive style, focus and behavioural tendencies. Self-efficacy is indisputably the key to success.
Bandura, A. (1995). Exercise of personal and collective efficacy in changing societies. In A. Bandura (Ed.), Self-efficacy in changing societies (pp. 1-45). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Williams, S. L. (1995). Self-efficacy, anxiety, and phobic disorders. In J. E. Maddux, (Ed.), Self-efficacy, adaptation, and adjustment: Theory, research and application (pp. 69-107). New York: Plenum
Bandura, A. (1997). Self efficacy: towards a unifying theory of behavioural change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.