The Importance Of Self-Efficacy To Task Performance

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Self-efficacy—beliefs regarding one’s capabilities for a particular task or endeavor—is among the most widely studied motivational constructs, forming the cornerstone of many contemporary theories (e.g., Bandura, 1997; Locke & Latham, 1990; Schunk, 1989). Across a broad range of tasks and contexts, self-efficacy has been shown to relate positively to a wide array of processes and outcomes, such as persistence amidst adversity, striving for high levels of accomplishment, and ultimately high levels of performance in a variety of domains (Bandura & Locke, 2003; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998). Yet, recent research has cast doubt on the benefits of self-efficacy with regard to task performance (Vancouver & Kendall, 2006; Vancouver et al., 2002, 2001;…show more content…
What accounts for the divergent and intriguing results observed in this recent research? Although within-person analyses appear to be essential to reveal the negative self-efficacy effect, it seems untenable to conclude that all positive effects of self-efficacy on performance observed in the vast body of existing research are little more than artifacts of between-persons methodology. As Bandura and Locke (2003) noted, the voluminous research on self-efficacy has utilized varied methodologies, including designs in which self-efficacy was experimentally altered both between persons and within persons. With few exceptions, these studies have found self-efficacy to positively relate to subsequent performance. These results, when considered alongside those reported by Vancouver and colleagues (Vancouver & Kendall, 2006; Vancouver et al., 2002, 2001), highlight the variable nature of the self-efficacy and performance relationship, as both positive and negative relationships have been observed even among studies conducted at the within-person level of analysis. Unfortunately, little is known about when or why the negative self-efficacy effect may…show more content…
With low efficacy, difficult endeavors may be seen as insurmountable challenges—if one’s beliefs in his or her capabilities fall short of those necessary to meet the demands of the situation, then any investments in such pursuits are likely to be seen as futile. However, with sufficient efficacy, goal seekers tend to see a greater likelihood of success, thus providing a likely return on investments of time, effort, and so forth. Similarly, self-efficacy is strongly and positively related to self-set goal levels (e.g., Locke & Latham, 1990), and high self-efficacy is thought to lead individuals to increase the difficulty of their personal goals following success (Bandura, 1997; Tolli & Schmidt, 2008). Such processes can encourage greater sustained effort when self-efficacy is high, thus facilitating performance. Yet, despite the vast body of literature suggesting that selfefficacy facilitates task performance, research indicates that this is not always the case. Some motivational scholars argue that high self-efficacy can lead to overly optimistic interpretations of one’s performance,

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