Albert Bandura, Ph.D. is regarded as one of the most eminent psychologists of our time.  Bandura started his career in 1953 and still maintains an active schedule of teaching and research at Stanford University.  On the occasion of his 80th birthday, he wrote:

“As I reflect on my journey to this octogenarian milepost, I am reminded of the saying that it is not the miles traveled but the amount of tread remaining that is important.  When I last checked, I still have too much tread left to gear down or to conclude this engaging Odyssey.”

Role of Self-Efficacy

One of Bandura’s greatest contributions to the field of psychology has been his study of self-efficacy, “people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives.”  In fact, Bandura’s research demonstrated that self-efficacy is the most powerful determinant of an individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and accomplishments.

For example, Bandura found that people with a strong sense of their capabilities 1) view difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered; 2) develop a deep interest in their activities; 3) set challenging goals and maintain a strong commitment to them, and 4) recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.

In contrast, individuals with a weak sense of self-efficacy 1) view difficult tasks as threats to be avoided; 2) quickly lose confidence and dwell on personal deficiencies and other obstacles to achieving desired results; 3) have low aspirations and weak commitment to goals, and 4) are slow to recover from setbacks and disappointments.

Sources of Self-Efficacy

Because Bandura’s research has proven that self-efficacy is a key ingredient to personal success and well-being, it is extremely important to understand how self-efficacy is developed.  According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy:

  1. Experiencing Success

The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through performing a task successfully.  Bandura wrote, “Successes build a robust belief in one’s personal efficacy.

  1. Choosing Role Models

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy.  According to Bandura, “Through their behavior and expressed ways of thinking, competent models transmit knowledge and teach observers effective skills and strategies for managing environmental demands.”

  1. Responding to Encouragement

Bandura also asserted that people can be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed.  Hearing and accepting verbal encouragement from others helps individuals overcome self-doubt and to focus instead on giving their best effort to overcoming challenges and achieving their goals.

  1. Managing Physical & Emotional Responses

Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation.  By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.

Sources: Bandura, Albert (1994). “Self Efficacy” in Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, New York: Academic Press; Pajares, F. (2004). Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch. Retrieved February 11, 2008 from

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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