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Social Learning Theory

Bandura proposes that outcome and self-efficacy expectations affect individual performance. An out- come expectation (similar to the concept of “instrumentality” in expectancy theory) is a person’s belief that performing a given behavior will lead to a given outcome. Self-efficacy can be defined as “people’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances. It is concerned not with the skills one has but with judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses.” A shorthand definition of self-efficacy is that it is a person’s judgment of the likelihood that he or she can successfully perform a particular task or activity. As Bandura recently wrote, “Unless people believe they can produce desired effects by their actions they have little incentive to act or to perform in the face of difficulties.” Self-efficacy beliefs are malleable and can be influenced by one’s accomplishments, observations of others, verbal persuasion, and physiological states.

The major prediction of the social learning theory is that a person’s self- efficacy expectations will determine

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1. whether a behavior will be performed,

2. how much effort will be spent, and

3. how long the person will continue to perform the behavior.

Bandura argues that people who have high self-efficacy for a particular task focus their attention on the challenges of a situation and use greater effort in mastering them, thus increasing the chances of successful performance. Con- versely, people who have low self-efficacy for a particular task focus their thoughts on obstacles and shortcomings, and as a result, reduce their chances of successful performance. Research shows that self-efficacy is strongly related to task performance.

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