Training of trainers – NFL and interactive methods in Youth work – ACHIEVE

Lesson 9 – Self-efficacy – text

text lesson

Self-efficacy is a concept introduced by Albert Bandura and is defined as “peoples’ faith in their ability to achieve certain level in their actions so that it can influence events that affect their lives.” Belief in self-efficacy determines how people live, think, their motives and behavior. The researchers found that – a strong sense of personal effectiveness is associated with better health, with personal well-being, higher performance and better social integration. According to A. Bandura sense of efficiency and agility, on the one hand is a product of social learning models of behavior of significant people in our environment. On the other, it is the social cognitive theory and the concept of “self-efficacy”.

The social cognitive theory of Bandura supports the basic principles of behaviorism, but introduces the concept of cognitive processes as mediators between stimulus and response. The main difference between the views of Skinner and Bandura – two prominent representatives of the behavioral psychology is that Skinner believes that learning results from personal experience reinforcements and therefore highlights the pivotal role of empowerment schedules. According to Bandura learning is possible through empathical experience, i.e. not only by monitoring the behavior of other people, but also the consequences / reinforcements they receive afterwards. By learning through empathy and observation it is not necessary to personally experience the reinforcements.

The subjective sense of high self-efficacy is close to Rother’s concept known as internal “locus of control” as it relates to taking responsibility for the course of your own life and for a more active role in determining its direction. Bandura clearly distinguishes the two concepts. He defines self-efficacy as the inner belief in one’s own ability to cope with difficult situations and make decisions quickly, results oriented and in competent manner. The concept of self-efficacy is summarized like this: “our own sense of value or self-esteem, sense of adequacy, efficiency and competence in dealing with the problems.”

People with high self-efficacy believe that they are able to cope with the difficulties and perceive them as challenges. Such features demonstrate also people with high personal sustainability. It is possible that the belief of personal self-efficacy can support the personal sustainability as personality traits. The same personal characteristics observed in people with high measures of self-efficacy are associated with high measures of personal sustainability – e.g. full dedication to work and family, professional dedication, higher stress resistance, higher goals and greater perseverance in overcoming difficulties and failures.

High personal effectiveness raises high expectations for success, high confidence in one’s own abilities and achievements, faith in the ability to control life events. Bandura’s research proved that the belief of high self-efficacy is associated with a number of positive effects:

  • getting high grades;
  • setting higher personal goals;
  • achieve greater success at work;
  • better somatic and mental health.

Self-efficacy affects human development and adaptation. It affects the level of human aspirations, strong commitment to achieving the objectives, the quality of analytical thinking, motivation and perseverance in overcoming difficulties and defeats, the processes of causal attribution in success or failure, endurance by unhappiness or distress, vulnerability to stress and depression. The most important feature of people with subjective feeling of low self-efficacy is the lack of faith in their own powers and abilities to deal with difficult and problematic situations. Usually they prefer to give up, even if they encounter little difficulties or problems. They are reluctant to pursue their goals consistently and hardly believe they have any control over your life and their achievements. Such people prefer to avoid situations that increase internal mental tension, because they relate everything to expectations of failure or poor performance.

Bandura focuses on mediating cognitive processes that guide the behavior of each person. The behavior is motivated by and based on the assessment of the individuals for their own self-efficacy, their mental models and beliefs and their expectations. Bandura distinguishes two types of expectations, which are “conceptualized as beliefs acting as part of the cognitive motivational initiative supporting behavioral engagement”:

  • expectations related to the results of operations;
  • expectations based on the assessment of the individual’s own abilities to behave in a way that would lead to the desired results.

Expectations are involved in cognitive motivational process – if both the expected (related to the effectiveness of one’s own behavior and related to outcomes) are high, then motivation and the likelihood of an individual to engage in the execution of a task or behavior will also be high. The main contribution of Bandura is the assumption that behavioral reactions are not so strongly conditioned by real reinforcements as by the expected ones – mental images of the future performance, i.e. by the cognitive processes as mediating variables between environmental stimuli and responses of the individual. The expectation of successful positive result is highly motivating.

Self-efficacy is the basis for deciding whether to commit to a task (depending on we perceive it as a challenge or a threat), what efforts we are willing to lay down, whether we will be persistent or we will give up at the first failures. It influences the level of emotional stress, which we experience in result of failures. Assessment precedes motivation, which together with expectations defines our behavior or behavioral strategy. Expectations of low or poor performance generate anxiety. High anxiety would rather motivate the individual to avoid behaviors, which could threaten self-esteem and self-assessment. Escape is one of the possible coping strategies (strategies for coping with stress and anxiety). There is also an alternative coping strategy – resistance or struggle with threatening stimuli and situations, which require certain skills.

The regulatory function of self-efficacy on the overall performance of the individual is explained by the impact of our own effectiveness on four basic psychological processes – cognitive, affective, motivational and selective. Self-efficacy has significant influence of on the cognitive processes, especially on thinking and goal setting. High self-efficacy and belief in one’s own abilities leads to the election of tasks with higher difficulty – i.e. setting higher goals. Low self-directed thinking develops a hypothetical, imaginary scenarios related to failure. Usually, in these scenarios the focus of attention is personal ineffectiveness, weaknesses and supposed events that would impede achievement. Belief in the attainability of objectives helps to develop scenarios which include more successful ways of action. High self-efficacy improves analytical thinking, while low self-efficacy focuses on the irrational thinking that prevents proper planning and implementation of actions.

According to Bandura, even when there are well-developed skills, perceptions of low self-efficacy would prevent these skills to be applied successfully. Self-efficacy affects the processes of learning and decision making. It modifies cognitive processes: the processes of analysis of the factors that have led to certain outcomes and the processes of analysis of the expected and foreseeable consequences of our actions. Subjective feeling of high self-efficacy and confidence in our own abilities will encourage efforts and commitment even in the presence of ever-increasing obstacles or constantly increasing pressure to rising social requirements. Tackling ambiguities and contradictions in the information received not only requires good skills in cognitive information processing, but also persistence. Source of persistence is the feeling of high self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy strongly influences the motivation regulation of behavior through the influence of self-efficacy beliefs in the processes of causal attribution. One is inclined to choose and realize these behaviors which are expected to bring high performance and believesthat they can be achieved through one’s own efforts and abilities. Beliefs about self-efficacy affect the level of motivation. Highly motivated people are able to put more effort and be persistent in achieving their goals in a long term. According to Bandura, in case of failure it is normal for a person to experience doubt but highly self-confident individuals very quickly reach the full recovery of high levels of self-efficacy. People who do not believe in their abilities, tend at first encountered obstacles to give up their aspirations. Hence, by failure they recover their confidence slowly and with difficulty.

The influence of the self-efficacy beliefs affects the regulation of affective processes – low self-efficacy and inability to control situations of threat generate high levels of anxiety and internal tensions.

Selective processes are also regulated by beliefs about personal effectiveness. People make choices related to profession, activities and social environment, as they believe that they have the necessary coping skills. People who believe in self, choose more difficult tasks and are tied to the chosen goals. They are focused on the task and not on their own performance; do not give up at the first difficulty, demonstrate perseverance and persistence in reaching goals. Through the exercise of choices based on the views of self-efficiency, we participate in such situations and activities in which we could demonstrate and even develop our abilities.

Bandura defines self-efficacy as a driving force of personality, which is typical for all people. People are not passively reacting to environmental influences, i. e. it is not that environment controls behavior through incentives that trigger certain reactions but there is room for personal choice based on self-reflection. People are active rather than reactive creatures. The assessment – based on the reflection on behavior, depends on the motivation for the continuation or modification of certain behavior. Reflexive reasoning can compare previous and current results of operations or past performance of the same behavioral strategy. Reflection can be in the direction of considering more successful strategies that are within the capabilities of the individual and that could lead to the desired results in the future. To build one’s self-efficacy, a person receives information from four main sources (ways to increase self-efficacy):bandura

  • information based on past performance; (progressive experiences)
  • information obtained through observation of people who are perceived as role models; (social models)
  • internal persuasion towards stubbornness on doing certain effort; (verbal persuasion)
  • psychological state of the individual – the presence of anxiety that will aggravate the use of cognitive skills and course of cognitive processes. (emotional and physiological states)

Important for the formation of one’s assessment of their effectiveness is the process of reflection on the results achieved. Also essential is the establishment of successful strategies for action and reporting of failed actions that will drop out of the behavioral repertoire. Neither high self-efficacy nor inner confidence can be expected without a process of reflection about the relationship between actions and their consequences. High self-confidence leads to high motivation and vice versa: the low estimate of self-efficacy is due to low self-confidence and low motivation.

According to Bandura sense of self-efficacy is related to the evaluation of the ability to perform certain action or behavior which leads to the desired results, but always in a specific situation. Efficiency is not common judgment or predisposition. General applicability (generality) as an attribute of self-efficacy was introduced by Bandura and registers to what extend expectations in one situation can be expanded and transferred to other similar ones.


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The training program “Training of Trainers” is an educational product that is currently missing in the partner countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to the early stage of development of the youth sector and youth work in these countries the educational materials aimed at non-formal learning are still limited and insufficient. The lack of adequate educational framework for training of youth workers in the field of formal education leads to inefficient use of the capacity of professionals.

This course fills a gap in the youth sector, namely the need of methodologies for the preparation of trainers, who are able to train youth workers. This course will set the basis for the preparation of teams of trainers of youth workers. The course will serve the goal of development of youth work in the participating countries and other interested parties. A large number of youth workers can be trained according to the methodology at national and international level to use and promote non-formal learning as a tool to enhance the realization of young people in the labor market and increase their social cohesion.

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