22 May, Wednesday
23° C

The library of essays of Proakatemia

Self-efficacy theory by Albert Bandura

Kirjoittanut: Jemina Laitinen - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.

Self-efficacy : the exercise of control
Albert Bandura
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

Albert Bandura is a renowned psychologist who introduced the concept of self-efficacy in the late 70’s. His theory has significantly impacted our understanding of human behaviour and motivation. The purpose of this essay is to introduce Bandura’s self-efficacy theory based on his opus, Self-efficacy: the exercise of control, which can be seen as the main opus of his theory.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to perform a specific task or achieve a particular goal (Bandura 1997). From Bandura’s point of view, self-efficacy focuses on a specific task and therefore it can vary in different situations and contexts. Hence, Bandura emphasizes that self-efficacy is a different attribution from self-esteem and self-confidence, and is not connected. (Bandura 1997.) Therefore, Bandura sees self-efficacy as very specific to certain tasks and it is not the same thing as self-confidence, which Bandura suggests to be a belief in one’s own capabilities at a general level.

Bandura’s (1997) theory emphasizes the influential role of one’s self-perception in shaping behaviour, cognition, and motivation. He proposed that self-efficacy is composed of four key components that are 

  1. Mastery Experiences
  2. Vicarious Experiences
  3. Verbal persuasion
  4. Physiological and emotional states

The following chapter presents these four key components more specifically by pondering their appearance as well as meaning in human being life.

Mastery Experiences:

Past successes and failures in similar tasks play a crucial role in shaping self-efficacy belief in a human being’s life. Positive experiences of overcoming challenges enhance self-efficacy, while repeated failures may lower it. For example, if someone is succeeding in project leading, the belief of being a good project leader gets stronger and therefore improves self-efficacy in leadership tasks in projects. In turn, if there have been failures in similar tasks, one can believe that one is not skilled in leadership and will not be able to be a good project leader in the future. 

It is important to understand, that believing to be good in some task is a belief that might not be true. Human beings are very good storytellers and therefore it is valuable to be aware of the fact that some thoughts and beliefs might not be in line with reality. (Hautala 2020 and Leppänen & Rauhala 2012.) According to Hautala, human beings have different beliefs regarding themselves with natural thinking patterns that can be empowering or limiting (Hautala 2020). People with critical thinking patterns can fall into lower self-efficacy beliefs because they see their actions through critical eyes without compassion towards failures. 

Vicarious Experiences:

Observing others successfully perform a task can influence one’s belief in their capabilities. This is often seen in role models or peers who serve as sources of inspiration. When individuals witness someone like themselves succeeding, it boosts their self-efficacy. (Bandura 1997). This can be seen as a modelling. In addition, is it that human beings are naturally imitating and apeing from others making this very obvious learning model regarding of everything in life? 

Because of the history and evolution of the human being, we are imitating and learning from other people. It starts when we are young and modelling our parents or relatives who we are living with. Is it also said that we are going to be similar to people we live with, for example, our life partners? Hence, if someone is capable of doing something, does it make it feel that it is not impossible? If someone can do something, it is also approachable to anyone.

Verbal Persuasion:

Encouragement and positive feedback from others can significantly impact self-efficacy. When individuals receive supportive words or guidance, it can strengthen their belief in their abilities. On the contrary, constant criticism may undermine self-efficacy. (Bandura 1997). Bandura’s suggestion sounds quite obvious and a natural way of building self-efficacy. 

It is natural to be influenced by the environment and other people around, however, needs to bring up its uncertainty and instability as a source of self-efficacy. If self-efficacy belief is built on other people’s feedback and external validation, what happens when there isn’t an opportunity to get supportive feedback or the only feedback received is criticism? Even though this source of self-efficacy, as well as self-confidence in general, is somehow an even more troublesome way of building self-efficacy beliefs.

On the other hand, validation and feedback from other people can even help an individual to realize some qualities and skills that a person might not be able to notice or understand my own self. This is supported by The Johari Window -theory created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955: When we receive feedback from others, we can wider blind area, those things, skills, qualities and behaviours that a person is not aware of themselves but they are visible and even obvious to other people. (Communication Theory 2023 and Mindtools 2023.) 

Therefore, can be seen that verbal persuasion is not only a questionable source of self-efficacy but also brings a valuable external point of view about a person’s qualities and behaviour. However, there is a question of how human beings could build self-efficacy without external validation and truly, find their own value and develop self-efficacy belief by their own self. Is it impossible, in the end?

Physiological and Emotional States:

Physical and emotional states, such as stress or anxiety, can affect self-efficacy. Bandura (1997) highlighted the importance of managing emotions and stress to maintain a positive belief in one’s capabilities. (Bandura 1997.) This is why wellbeing and health a crucial things to take care of both on a mental and physical level as well. Even though stress is a natural function of human beings’ lives and needs as well, long-term and chronic stress causes many different issues as known generally. 

Physical condition strongly to how a person feels about themself. For example, when feeling healthy and brisk, there is a bigger possibility to feel feeling capable of achieving different things. If suffering a physical illness or injury, that affects a person’s mood and that way it is natural that it is also affecting self-efficacy beliefs. Additionally, stress and anxiety make thinking limited and can cause for example memory issues or other cognitive challenges. In that sense, it is very natural that if those kinds of functions are limited, a person can feel overall limited which leads to lower self-efficacy belief.


Overcoming obstacles improves self-efficacy

Bandura (1997) highlights that self-efficacy beliefs are built outside of the comfort zone, which is also emphasized by Leppänen and Rauhala (2012). This is something to point out highly: When there are challenges, obstacles and failures, and overcoming and managing them, there are possibilities to build very strong self-efficacy beliefs. Anything is not a more effective way to build self-efficacy beliefs, and that is why it is important to understand that every failure and challenge is an opportunity to grow and build self-capacity, as well as resilience. The key is that when noticing to be able to manage situations and overcome unpleasure feelings that would not be desired to ever happen, and realise that could overcome that kind of obstacle that never could overcome.



Bandura, A. 1997. Self-efficacy : the exercise of control. New York : W. H. Freeman and Company-

Hautala, J. 2020. Vapaudu uskomusten kahleista. Audio book: Book Garden. Released 16.4.2020.

Leppänen, M. & Rauhala, I. 2012. Johda ihmisiä, psykologiaa johtajille. Helsinki: Talentum.

Mindtools. Read 1.12.2023. https://www.mindtools.com/au7v71d/the-johari-window

Communication theory. Read 1.12.2023. https://www.communicationtheory.org/the-johari-window-model/

Post a Comment