Bandura's self-efficacy theory

Bandura's self-efficacy theory

Bandura, father of the theory of self-efficacy, presented a model on human functioning that is based on two key principles.

  • On the one hand, the existence of a reciprocal interaction between environment, behavior and person
  • On the other, the importance of a series of cognitive variables that allow you to learn from the environment, develop skills and competencies, reflect on yourself and evaluate, guide and motivate your own behavior

Subsequently, Bandura stressed the importance of cognitive activity involved in the representation of goals, the anticipation of the probable results of several actions, the realization of attributions from past successes and failures and the estimation of self-efficacy.

In this sense, his main contributions include his study of the role played by expectations of self-efficacy and personal control in the specific framework of the process of self-regulation of behavior.


  • 1 Elements of Bandura's theory of self-efficacy and personal control
  • 2 Expectations of self-efficacy
  • 3 References

Elements of Bandura's self-efficacy and personal control theory

For Bandura the itself represents a system of self-regulation of behavior through the perception and assessment of the behavior itself. They are, therefore, processes of personal control that can vary from one situation to another and over time.

They do not, therefore, have great temporal stability or transnational consistency. Thus, Bandura considers that lor that people have is not a self-concept, understood as something stable and lasting, but self-concepts that change and are different according to the moments and situations.

In fact, the image of itself It is the final result of the process of self-control, distinguishing three stages in this process: self-observation, prosecution processes and self-response.


The self-observation represents the observation made by the subject of his own behavior, fully understood (acts, goals, strategies, feelings ...).

It is really important that the individual has constant information about their behavior, to introduce corrections or redefine objectives if necessary.

The prosecution processes

The prosecution processes constitute the assessment made by the subject of his behaviors, based on a series of norms that it has been assuming based on internal models and self reinforcement.

The greatest regulatory effect on behavior is produced by the adoption of goals that are slightly above our perception of competence, thus serving as an effective stimulus to maintain and increase the effort in behavior oriented towards its achievement.


Self-response implies the reaction that occurs in the person after the previous two stages. Even in those activities directed and controlled externally, it is the individual who directs the rhythm, effort, quality of work ...

The behavior is maintained because the subject periodically values ​​the development of the behavior, granting rewards and satisfactions if progress is being made, or introducing corrections, trying new strategies, and increasing the effort, if deviations from the established plan are appreciated.

The idea that each one has about its effectiveness constitutes a central aspect within the system of the self. It is therefore a central element of itself, together with the processes of self-assessment, being one of the aspects most investigated by Bandura.

Self-efficacy expectations

Self-efficacy expectations explain the results of the observation of behavior models. Since then, they have received a great deal of attention from various sectors.

The expectations of self-efficacy refer to the judgment about one's ability to have something to do, to carry out certain activities, to deal with certain situations successfully.

Usually, it is the perception and assessment of oneself as the holder of the necessary capacity and personal resources to face the various situations he faces in his daily life.

It differs from the results expectations, which have also been proposed by Bandura, in which they refer to the belief about the probability of achieving a certain result (association between behavior-consequences).

In contrast to expectations of a place of control, Bandura states that these are specific to situations. In this same sense, other scientists argue that they are not something that characterizes the subject and defines it in a general way, but rather the perception of oneself as with sufficient resources to face the specific situation faced.

In short, it seems that one of its fundamental aspects is the role they play in controlling behavior. Although they also seem to influence what activities we participate in, how much we strive in a situation, how long we persevere in a task and how are our emotional reactions.

Self-efficacy and response systems

  • Cognitive level, influence the way in which the individual anticipates and makes plans for your future
  • Motivationally, they influence maintenance and increase the level of effort to achieve the desired goal, despite the obstacles and difficulties that may arise during the process that leads to the achievement of the objectives, as well as in the type of goals and objectives that one intends to achieve
  • Emotionally, influence the greater or lesser degree of threat attributed to situations, in the way he reacts affectively to difficulties that arise, exerting a damping or modulating effect of the emotional reaction and decreasing the probability of the appearance of negative affective reactions such as anxiety and depression and of negative thoughts that activate and maintain these reactions


  • Bandura, A., Elder, G. H., Flammer, A., Schneewind, K. A., Oettingen, G., Jerusalem, M., & Zimmerman, B. J. (1999).Self-efficacy: how we face the changes of today's society.
  • Olivari Medina, C., & Urra Medina, E. (2007). Self-efficacy and health behaviors.Science and Nursing13(1), 9-15.
  • Suárez, P. S., García, A. M. P., & Moreno, J. B. (2000). General self-efficacy scale: adaptation psychometric data for the Spanish population.Psychothema12(Su2), 509-513.