The Guide to Self-Efficacy

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BetterUp Studios

5 min

Believe in Yourself written on a yellow wall


Self-efficacy is our belief in our own abilities. It allows us to confront problems head on and flourish in the face of challenges. Without it, we avoid things that seem hard and miss out on opportunities for growth. Keep reading to learn about how practicing self-efficacy can keep you moving forward.

What is self-efficacy?

  • The belief that you can handle whatever comes your way, giving you the confidence to act in the face of a challenge.
  • An important indicator of how we approach a difficult situation. If you have self-efficacy, you are more likely to tackle the situation with positivity; if you don't, you may feel threatened by failure and avoid trying at all.
  • A key component of what's known as our "self-system," the part of our psychological makeup that shapes how we perceive and approach the world around us.

Why is it important?

  • It inspires growth. People with self-efficacy set more goals, tackle more challenges, and accomplish more.
  • It changes perceptions. People with self-efficacy see challenges instead of obstacles.
  • It increases happiness. People with self-efficacy have less stress. They are less likely to experience depression and enjoy greater personal satisfaction.
  • It builds character. When people with self-efficacy experience a setback, they are quick to dust themselves off and try again.

What does it look like in my life?

  • Visualizing success when faced with a task.
  • Belief in your own ability to cope with problems, e.g. "I can handle that."
  • High motivation and effort, because you know you can succeed if you keep trying.
  • Belief that your behavior can affect change.
  • Setting high goals and having high expectations for yourself.

How do I maximize it?

  • Don't take it personally. When you fail at something, consider situational and environmental factors.
  • Embrace challenges. What did Wayne Gretzky say? You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Avoiding challenges doesn't lead to more success, it leads to no success and no growth.
  • Take accurate measurements. Nothing is an all-or-nothing, one-time chance; every success is just a small step in your story of self-improvement.
  • Look for role models. You are more likely to take on a task when you've watched someone else succeed at it.
  • Let people support you. Your loved ones want to see you succeed. Tell them when you're experiencing and let their encouragement lift you up.
  • Pay attention to yourself. Be aware of your stress levels and your internal monologue; don't get trapped in a negative self-narrative.

A deeper look...

  • Self-efficacy is influenced by four major factors:
    1. Mastery experience, or when we succeed.
    2. Vicarious experience, or when we witness a peer succeed or fail.
    3. Verbal persuasion, or encouragement.
    4. Physical and emotional state, or how our minds and bodies feel.
  • Environment greatly impacts feelings of self-efficacy and it can be taught or improved.
  • Cooperative learning in a school setting has been found to improve self-efficacy.

Featured Researchers

Albert Bandura, Ph.D., and one of the most cited psychologists of all time.

Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel Memorial Prize winner noted for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision making.

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BetterUp Studios creates and curates research-backed content, activities, and tools to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

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