Self-Efficacy: Definition & Theory

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  • 0:01 The Power of Self-Efficacy
  • 0:51 Bandura's Self-Efficacy
  • 1:57 The Four Sources
  • 4:25 Self-Efficacy in Practice
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ron Fritz
Learn what self-efficacy is and how it affects your motivation to accomplish specific tasks. Learn about Albert Bandura's contribution to the concept of self-efficacy and how it has shaped contemporary psychology.

The Power of Self-Efficacy

There is an old and frequently told story of a track coach who wanted to teach his team to run faster. No matter what the coach did, no one seemed able to beat his or her best time. One night, unbeknownst to the team, the coach moved the finish line, effectively making the track 10 feet longer. The next day, the runners clocked slower times than they usually did (because the track was now 10 feet longer).

Discouraged, because they knew they could do better, the runners practiced and practiced until they could again achieve their old times. At this point, the coach let them in on the secret that he had moved the finish line and informed them that they were now running faster. The coach demonstrated that, when the runners thought they couldn't go any faster, they didn't, and when they knew they could do better, they did. The coach proved the power of self-efficacy.

Bandura's Self-Efficacy

Psychologist Albert Bandura defined self-efficacy as an individual's belief that he or she will be able to accomplish a specific task. He believed that an essential component to accomplishing something is our confidence that we can. Bandura referred to self-efficacy as the mind's self-regulatory function; it tells us when to try and when to stop. If you do not believe something is possible, you are less likely to attempt the task and more likely to give up early if you do.

Henry Ford Quote

Self-efficacy drives your motivation; just as you have different degrees of motivation depending on the task, so also do you have different levels of self-efficacy. You may have high self-efficacy when it comes to your job because you have done it for a long time. You may have low self-efficacy in regards to school because you struggled to make passing grades. The level of self-efficacy you have when you begin a task has a great deal to do with whether you will successfully complete it.

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