In 1977, the Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura posited that there are 3 main constructs that influence learning in a social setting. These are one’s self, their behavior and the environment. He was well known for his famous “bobo doll” experiment which showcased the importance of learning, imitation and modeling. In my paper, I will be analyzing one of Bandura’s contributions to the development of learning theory. Bandura (1994) stated that his ‘self-efficacy’ theory (a personal cognitive factor) is the belief in one’s ability to influence events that affect one’s life and control over the way these events are experienced. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people think, feel, motivate themselves and behave when it comes to a particular situation or task.
There are four sources of self-efficacy.
• Previous mastery experiences (successes and failures)- Bandura (1994) explained that mastery experiences are the most effective way to boost self- efficacy because the belief that you can do something new is high especially if the task is similar to one you have already done well. Naturally, succeeding makes each of us feel accomplished and powerful. If we had succeeded in a previous task, our self-efficacy is high and thus, we have great confidence in similar tasks appointed to us or even tasks that are more complex than the previous ones. When it comes to failures, our confidence level is very low and so is our self- efficacy. However, with self-motivation and conviction, we may be able to perform the challenge at hand.
• Vicarious learning (modeling)- self efficacy is influenced by seeing the people who are similar to you succeed or fail. Seeing someone in the same field of work succeed, boosts your self-efficacy because you believe that you too can achieve success. Seeing others fail, decreases your self- efficacy and you start to believe that you cannot achieve something. People tend to group themselves with persons with a high success rate because that’s who they aspire to be.
• Social persuasion (encouragement and discouragement)- We all perform tasks better if we have the proper encouragement from the people around us. In social persuasion, the person is influenced by someone who holds a high a position. Encouragement or discouragement has a greater impact on someone if it is coming from someone who they look up to.
• Emotional arousal- Emotions can influence the way a person performs a task. Negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and fear can affect your self- efficacy in the way that they will believe they are incapable of performing the task at hand,
Self-efficacy plays a prominent role in the field of psychology. In many schools across the world, there is a guidance counselor present. Oftentimes when a student’s performance is low, the guidance counselor works with them on ways in which they can boost their self-efficacy. They work with them to create short term goals, help them with suitable learning strategies and compare their past performances to their current. The latter is very effective because it is previous mastery experiences. Comparing the student’s past grades with their current will push them to do better. If their past performances were good, they will believe that they can keep on that streak and continue to do better. If their past performances are bad, emotional arousal can come into play and with the proper social persuasion, they can believe in themselves that they can do better in the future.
Another area where self-efficacy plays an important role is sports. As we know sports is very competitive and you need to have your head in the game always. No matter what sport you play, you need to have self-confidence to perform at your maximum. Before the game, some players analyze their past performances and visualize ways in which they can perform better. They use themselves as models instead of their teammates because their past successes and failures are the strongest influences. Encouragement from teammates and coaches play a very effective role in any player’s life.
We apply Bandura’s self-efficacy theory in most things that we do. Whether we apply to school, work, relationships or just life, we set goals. Self-efficacy helps us perform better in school, helps us to work better in group settings and help us thrive in relationships. It also helps us to make better, positive decisions which in turn aids us in living better lives.