Increasing our Self-Efficacy (Confidence)

SELF-EFFICACY is a term used in psychology to describe an individuals belief in their own ability (i.e. their confidence).

It is based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986).

Being able to enhance our own and others self-efficacy can be a key tool in the achievement of goals and aspirations.  Methods for enhancing self-efficacy include:

  • Mastery: success raises self-efficacy, failure lowers it.

  • Vicarious experience: when comparing their own experiences/achievements to ‘similar’ others, when people see someone succeeding at something, their self-efficacy will increase and where they see people failing, their self-efficacy will decrease.

  • Verbal persuasion: positive feedback increases self-efficacy and negative feedback decreases it.

  • Physiological feedback: subjective perceptions of physiological responses can alter self-efficacy (e.g. breathlessness after exercise interpreted as a sign of a good workout or a sign of being unhealthy).

Through mastery, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological feedback, our confidence in our own abilities can be increased.  In turn, this empowers and motivates us towards our goals.

positive cycle is created whereby the more confidence we gain, the more we achieve, the more confident we become, and so on.  One feeds off the other.

Approaches utilised to increase self-efficacy include:

  • Motivational interviewing

  • Education programmes

  • Coaching

  • Goal setting

  • Psychological support

These approaches will be outlined in future blogs. In the meantime, if you have any methods of increasing self-efficacy, please do share.


Bandura A (1986) Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Prentice Hall, New Jersey NJ.

Categories: Personal/Professional Development, Psychology

Tags: , , ,

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