I’ve been thinking about self-efficacy & it’s links with coaching. Thought I’d share an extract of my thoughts to date………….
Self Efficacy is defined (Bandura 1997 p.3) as “belief in one’s capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” It is concerned then with judgements about personal capability in a specific domain & individual expectation about capability for performance in future situations. Self-efficacy therefore can determine “how people feel, think, behave and motivate themselves” (Cox 2006) seemingly a powerful concept with a plethora of evidence based research to support its claims.
Collective efficacy defined as “a group’s shared belief in its conjoint capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainment” (Bandura 1997 p 477) perhaps has more relevance & impact when applied in collective cultures such as India, Indonesia or China (Klassen 2004) or in the changing web 2.0 western world.
Self esteem differs in that it refers to a global & perhaps abstract evaluation of personal worth rather than a specific judgement of what one can do. It is recognised that people will have different self-efficacy beliefs in different situations that may not affect their overall sense of self-esteem (Pervin, Cervone & John 2005)
Bandura (1997) identifies four behavioural mechanisms that are influenced by self efficacy perceptions; Commitment to challenging tasks, persistence with efforts, staying calm during task performance and organising thoughts in an analytical manner. People with a high perceived self-efficacy therefore are more likely to display these characteristics and achieve greater levels of success than those who have a low perceived self-efficacy and may; fail to attempt difficult tasks, give up in adverse conditions, become anxious and unable to think clearly.
There is a large amount of diverse research that strongly supports a relationship between measures of perceived self-efficacy and performance. If this is to be accepted it’s application to coaching & mentoring as well as many other areas is significant. If the coach for example can support the coachee in increasing their perceived self-efficacy in the following influential areas (Bandura 1997) then their performance will improve.
- Provide feedback on learners own capabilities (enactive mastery experiences)
- Provide comparative information about the attainment of others (vicarious experiences)
- Tell learners what others believe them capable of achieving (verbal persuasion)
- Learners judge their own ability to engage in the task at hand (physiological states)
Locke & Latham (2002) believe that peoples task goals may differ. Expectancy of performance & importance of outcome influence goal setting and variables include level of difficulty, proximity of goal, and type of goal being set. They conclude as Bandura, that people with higher perceptions of self-efficacy will often set higher goals and remain more committed to them. Law, et al (2007) describe goal setting as a western preoccupation and report that even in European studies where coaches work in coaching relationships without clear goals, coachees have evidenced no negative outcomes. In addition in a changing world where more emphasis is being placed on informal learning, collaborative learning (web 2.0) and emergent learning, coaching may become less constrained by goals especially detailed sub-goals.
As well as being a western conceived concept, much of the research regarding self-efficacy has been completed in the western world. Klassen (2004) reviewed 20 studies and focussed on whether self-efficacy beliefs appeared to be influenced by the cultural dimensions of collectivism and individualism. Features in individualist cultures such as US, GB & Australia included; emphasis on ‘I’, independence & initiative and collective cultures such as India, China & Indonesia as emphasizing ‘we’, collective identity & group solidarity. Results of his review included;
- Efficacy beliefs operate differently in western vs. non-western cultures
- Self-efficacy beliefs are typically higher in western participants & individualist cultures
- People from collectivist cultures typically rate self-efficacy lower than Individualist cultures even when performance levels are equivalent or higher.
- Lower self efficacy in some groups does not signify a lower level of performance or functioning
- Realistic – as opposed to optimistic efficacy beliefs do not necessarily predict poor performance for all cultural groups
Klassen (2004) concludes that although rated differently efficacy beliefs remain important factors in the motivational functioning of individualist and collectivistcultural groups. Klassen’s (2004) review has significant relevance to the application of self-efficacy when working cross culturally. (Bandura 1995 p.13) suggests that a level of optimistic efficacy correlate with optimal functioning. However lower self-efficacy and selection of realistic goals by individuals in collective cultures, for example, does not mean that performance or persistence will be necessarily negatively affected. When applying this to coaching, it would be important that the coach’s approach is congruent with the culture and each individuals perception of self within that culture.These concepts may not only be applicable cross countries but also in our own practice in the UK. We are living in a multi-cultural society where cultural values and diversity add to the richness of our society. In addition organisational culture in the UK varies across the spectrum of collectivism and Individualism. The impact of web 2.0, social networking and collaborative sharing & creation of content is having and will continue to have an impact on the way in which we work, interact, perform and work towards goals at work. This revolution has the potential to change the individualistic focussed culture to a more collective one. This therefore could in time put more emphasis on collective efficacy and contradict Bandura’s optimistic goals perspective.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self Efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman
Cox, E. (2006). An adult learning approach to coaching. In Evidence Based Coaching Handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Klassen, R. M. (2004). Optimism and Realism: A review of self efficacy from a cross cultural perspective. International Journal of Psychology, 39 (3), 205-230.
Law, H. C., Ireland, S & Hussain, Z. (2007). The Psychology of Coaching, Mentoring and Learning. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002) Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35 year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717
Pervin, L. A., Cervone, D. & John, O.J. (2005) Personality: Theory and Research. Ninth Edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.