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The following is written by Dr Melissa Weinberg, an Honorary Fellow from Deakin’s School of Psychology.
When it comes to performing a specific task, simply believing in your ability to execute it won’t get you very far. Despite what R. Kelly and countless inspirational quotes would have you believe, you cannot fly, and nor can you touch the sky, no matter how much you’d like to. In reality, any belief that you can may have disastrous consequences.
Without the talent, resources, and raw ability to perform a task, belief alone will not do the job. However, it may just be the thing that motivates you to harness the talent, resources, and ability required to get there.
Self-efficacy more commonly thought of as confidence. Confidence typically comes from knowing that you’ve done something before, and believing that you can do it again. Of course, you can be confident of completing a task even if you’ve never done it before, and that’s where your self-efficacy comes in.
As opposed to self-esteem, which is a more global appraisal of your capability as a person, and is thus more closely tied to your identity, self-worth, and self-value, self-efficacy is directed towards specific tasks. You may generally have a strong sense of self-esteem, in that you feel you’re a person of worth and are good at things compared to other people, but you may have no self-efficacy when it comes to performing a choreographed dance routine.
Self-efficacy is a core belief that represents your perception that you are able to produce a desired outcome. If you are self-efficacious regarding a specific task, you are more likely to invest in the talent, resources, and ability that you have in order to ensure you achieve your goal. Self-efficacy serves as a motivating factor that guides you towards completing actions and making decisions that are likely to ultimately lead to successful task achievement.
'Self-efficacy is a core belief that represents your perception that you are able to produce a desired outcome.'
Dr Melissa Weinberg,
School of Psychology, Deakin University
According to Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, there are four key pathways to gain self-efficacy:
Psychologists often also propose a fifth pathway – through imagery. Imaging yourself performing successfully in a given situation can reinforce the neural networks required to produce the desired outcome. This is also a crucial element of goal setting.
When you properly image a scenario, by incorporating elements of visualisation while also paying attention to the auditory, sensory, and tactile features of the successful environment, the parts of your brain responsible for performing the action or goal are activated, even though they’re not actually doing it. The stronger these brain pathways, the better you’ll be able to execute your task when the time comes.
At the end of the day, self-efficacy in its simplest form is a perception of your ability. If you have self-efficacy but you don’t have the talent, resources, and raw ability, your chances of success will be pretty low.
On the flip side, if you have the talent, resources, and ability, and you have a firm belief in your ability to achieve your desired outcome, I’d say you’re well on your way to success.
Working towards something and looking for strategies to help you get there? Check out Dr Weinberg’s advice on how to set and achieve your goals.
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