1 Self-efficacy and self-esteem – what’s the difference?
In Week 5 self-esteem was defined as the beliefs you have about yourself – what you think and feel about who you are, and what you expect for your future.
Self-efficacy, developed by the psychologist Albert Bandura (1995), is closely related – an individual’s belief in their ability to complete tasks and to achieve their goals, or their self-belief.
As you might anticipate, judging yourself to be capable of success increases your chances of actual success, while judging yourself as not capable of success reduces your chances of actual success. So, as Rebecca Fielding touched on in the video in Week 5, our judgements and beliefs about our capabilities are important in real terms.
Self-efficacy describes our judgement about our ability in specific tasks or activities; self-esteem reflects our feelings about ourselves more generally. Your degree of self-efficacy has an impact on:
- the way you choose tasks, goals and actions – how high you aim and whether you risk taking on tasks that are a bit of a stretch
- how you are motivated – how much time and effort you make to achieve or complete a task
- how you think about challenges, obstacles and lack of achievement. For example, someone with high self-efficacy may view an unsuccessful job interview as due to too little preparation beforehand, whereas a person with lower self-belief is more likely to conclude that they are not good enough for this job, or any other job like that.
Self-efficacy makes a big difference in times of transition. It can affect whether you apply for a job that you feel might be a bit of a stretch.
So, what can you do to boost your beliefs about yourself?
Activity 1 Boosting self-belief
In Week 5 you heard Rebecca Fielding giving examples of resilient self-talk; you might like to watch the video again now. Think about someone you know who has high self-efficacy beliefs in an area where you feel less confident.
- What do they do?
- How do they behave differently from you?
- More importantly, what do you think they say to themselves or how do they think differently? How might they behave if a good try doesn’t work first time?
Write down your thoughts.
If possible, have a conversation with someone with high self-efficacy beliefs in any field. In Activity 1 of Week 1, you looked at what resilient people say to themselves, e.g. ‘Get back in the saddle’. What self-talk does this person have when they are aiming high, or doing something they are uncertain will come off? Are there possible lessons there for you?
Bear in mind too that self-efficacy is linked to tasks, so you might have high self-efficacy beliefs around leading the singing at a toddler group, and lower ones around changing a wheel on a car, or vice versa. How do people keep motivated?