What is Self Efficacy In Behavioral Science?

What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-Efficacy is a central concept in behavioral science, referring to an individual’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. It plays a vital role in how individuals approach goals, tasks, and challenges.


Self-Efficacy, a term coined by psychologist Albert Bandura, is the belief in one’s capacities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations. It’s not about the skills one has but the judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses.

Key Aspects

  • Task-Specific Confidence

    Self-efficacy is not a general sense of confidence but is specific to tasks or situations. People may have high self-efficacy in one area, like cooking, but low self-efficacy in another, like public speaking.

  • Impact on Behavior

    Individuals with high self-efficacy are more likely to take on challenges, persist in the face of difficulty, and recover more quickly from setbacks. Those with low self-efficacy may avoid challenging tasks, give up easily, and become despondent when facing difficulty.

  • Formation

    Self-efficacy beliefs are formed through a variety of experiences, including mastery experiences (successes), vicarious experiences (observing others succeed), verbal persuasion (encouragement from others), and physiological and emotional states (stress, mood, and physical health).

Role in Behavioral Science

Self-Efficacy is one of the central constructs in social cognitive theory and is a key variable in a variety of fields, including education, health, psychopathology, athletics, and business. It is a determinant of goal setting, activity choice, willingness to expend effort, and persistence in the face of adversity.

Implications for Behavior Change

Understanding and enhancing self-efficacy can be crucial for behavior change. Interventions may aim to improve self-efficacy beliefs through mastery experiences, modeling, verbal persuasion, or managing physiological and emotional states. Increased self-efficacy can help individuals set and pursue challenging goals, persist in the face of setbacks, and ultimately achieve desired behavior change.

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