Drilling woman in a woodwork classSelf-efficacy is a person’s belief about whether he or she possesses the necessary skills to complete tasks and achieve goals.

What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is similar in some ways to self-confidence, but focuses more on an individual’s belief in his or her ability to competently do things rather than his or her beliefs about his or her own worth.

The concept of self-efficacy was developed by child psychologist Albert Bandura, as part of his theory of social-cognitive learning. Social-cognitive learning focuses on learning by observation. Self-efficacy is critical to learning, according to Bandura, because people with a high-degree of self-efficacy have a strong incentive to learn. They tend to view new or challenging tasks as goals over which to gain mastery rather than as overwhelming setbacks at which they might fail.

Role of Self-Efficacy in Learning

People with high self-efficacy tend to have an internal locus of control, which means they believe that they can control what happens to them. People with low self-efficacy and an external locus of control, by contrast, tend to believe that external events and forces control their behavior and lives. Consequently, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to be persistent because they believe the ability to master something is in their power. This can affect motivation for learning, and students with low self-efficacy may struggle not only with grades but also with completing schoolwork.

Low self-efficacy can also lead to problems such as anxiety or depression. When a person is low in self-efficacy, they feel that they have little control over their own lives, which can contribute to feelings of overwhelm, sadness, or hopelessness.

Influences on Self-Efficacy

Teaching styles that encourage exploration and mastery rather than memorization or uniformity tend to produce more self-efficacy. Similarly, parents who institute consistent rules and provide their children with plenty of affection tend to have children with higher degrees of self-efficacy.


  1. An introduction to self-efficacy. (n.d.). University of Connecticut. Retrieved from
  2. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.

Last Updated: 08-24-2015

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  • Allen B.

    July 1st, 2020 at 8:22 PM

    I am a Ph.D. who has conducted two- and four-day seminars in individual and organizational performance improvement. The topics of self-efficacy, self-talk, rehearsal and visualization were woven into the information, exercises, and assignments. I also have participated in training with Albert Ellis. For the last ten years I have been consulting full time in planning and evaluating programs for offenders and improving organizational functioning of courts and related offices. — I welcome the opportunity to learn from others who can provide insights in the topics I mentioned above. — Thank you

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