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Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Concept: Differences & Effects on Outcome Expectations

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  • 0:42 Self-Concept Defined
  • 3:10 Self-Concept at…
  • 4:10 Self-Efficacy Defined
  • 6:04 Factors that Influence…
  • 7:30 Self-Efficacy and…
  • 8:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
How do you perceive yourself? Are you good in a particular academic discipline? Do you like being around others, or do you prefer to spend time alone? The answers to these questions help make up your self-concept and self-efficacy. This lesson will differentiate between these two concepts and explore outcomes of high and low self-efficacy.

Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Concept

One's overall perceptions, beliefs, judgments, and feelings are referred to as sense of self. Answering questions such as: 'How do you describe yourself? Are you a good test taker? Are you good at sports? Do you like to be around others?' all tell you something about yourself. Encompassed in the construct of sense of self is self-concept and self-efficacy. This lesson will differentiate between self-efficacy and concept and explore how these perceptions affect academic outcomes.

Self-Concept Defined

Self-concept is defined as an individual's belief and evaluation about himself or herself. Included in this definition are one's beliefs about attributes (both physical and mental), likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses.

A class working on a common goal supports group membership for students
Group Membership Example

Children tend to behave in ways that mirror their beliefs about themselves. Children who have positive self-concept are more likely to succeed and persist at difficult tasks, while children with low self-concept tend to give up more easily and fail more often.

One's self-concept is largely self-constructed; therefore, self-assessments may be inaccurate, leading to views of skills and abilities being slightly inflated or slightly underestimated.

Factors that Influence Self-Concept

Three main factors influence one's self-concept. Simply telling a child they are good in a particular skill or that they are attractive or popular will not influence their self-concept. Researchers have identified previous performance, the behavior of others, and group membership and achievements as key influencers of self-concept.

Previous Performance

A child's self-assessment of skills and abilities depends on how successful their actions have been in the past. For example, children are likely to believe they will do well in future science courses if they have been successful in science courses in the past.

Behaviors of Others

The second influencer is the behavior of others. Children's self-concept can be influenced by others' behaviors in two ways. First, children evaluate their performance based on the performance of other children around them. How their performance compares to their peers will influence their self-concept. For example, receiving a 90 on a test when all other classmates received an 80 or below would be evaluated by the child as successful. Receiving a 90 on a test when all other classmates received a 95 or above would be deemed as a failure, despite the fact that 90 is a high score.

Group Membership and Achievements

Membership in a group can impact sense of self-concept because it allows an individual to take pride in being part of larger successes. For example, if an entire class earned an award for raising the most money in a school food drive, a child would feel a sense of pride by contributing to the success of the group, no matter how much he or she actually individually contributed.

Self-Concept at Different Grade Levels

Self-concept develops and changes as a child matures and ages.

Verbal encouragements help keep students determined to finish tasks
Verbal encouragements

In the early years (kindergarten through second grade) children tend to have a concrete self-concept limited to easily observable characteristics. They also tend to overestimate their abilities and future successes.

From third grade to fifth grade, children are increasingly aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They also begin to incorporate feelings of pride, shame, and other emotions with self-concept.

During middle school (grades six through eight) there is an increase in abstract conceptions of oneself. There is also an increased awareness and sensitivity to what others think. There is excessive belief in one's own uniqueness, as well.

In high school, there is a gradual increase in overall positive self-concept. Students begin to search for who they are and who they will become.

Self-Efficacy Defined

Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of organizing and executing certain behaviors or reaching certain goals.

Self-efficacy affects choice of activities, effort, and persistence. For example, people who hold a low self-efficacy for accomplishing a task may avoid it; those who believe they are capable are likely to participate.

Differences between Self-Efficacy and Self-Concept

Self-efficacy and self-concept are similar in that both constructs account for one's judgments of their capabilities. However, self-efficacy is different from self-concept in several ways.

First, the definition of self-efficacy includes 'organize and execute,' which specifically focuses on the perceived competence in terms of including the behavioral actions or cognitive skills that are necessary for performance for a given skill or ability. For example, self-efficacy isn't simply the recognition of 'I'm good in sports,' but rather, explicit judgments of having the necessary skills and physical fitness level to do well in those types of activities.

Second, self-efficacy is used in reference to a specific goal. For example, a student that usually does well in math may experience low self-efficacy toward a particular problem set or equation because of the difficulty of the material compared to previous material learned.

Chart of self-efficacy outcome expectations
Self Efficacy Outcomes Chart

Third, a student may have an overall self-concept for a skill or ability while holding a differing perceived self-efficacy for a specific task within that area. For example, a student may hold a negative self-concept for science classes, but have high self-efficacy for a particular project or task. They still think of themselves as being poor science students, but feel particularly apt in one area within the class.

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