woman reflecting in a field about to improve her life

How To Determine Your Self-Efficacy And Ways To Improve Them

Albert Bandura, an influential psychologist who proposed the theory of self-efficacy describes self-efficacy as “people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise their influence over events that affect their lives”. To put it in simpler terms, self-efficacy is people’s belief in their competencies as a person.


In one of my previous articles, I discussed the importance of mindset changes (mindset is a collection of your beliefs) and how it can make you a better person. It shed light on the influence of mindset on our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, the three interconnected components in psychology. Since self-efficacy is a form of belief too, it is undeniable that it can also influence our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.


woman reflecting in a field about to improve her life

It is important to not get self-efficacy mixed up with self-esteem although these terms are used interchangeably by many. Self-esteem is a subjective sense of our value while self-efficacy is the belief in our capabilities. However, self-efficacy does have an influence on self-esteem as your belief in your capabilities increases, your sense of self-worth also increases.


While it’s generally good to have confidence in our ability to perform well in a myriad of areas of life, self-efficacy does come with many benefits. Resilience is one of them. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversities. Having high faith in your ability to perform something well gives you the motivation to face the challenges that come with it.


Besides, better habits can be much more easily established in individuals with higher self-efficacy compared to those with lower self-efficacy. Imagine picking up a new workout routine. The chances of you being consistent and making progress towards your body goals largely depend on whether you think it’s possible for you to be able to achieve it.



How do you measure it?

Just like many other psychological constructs, self-efficacy is very abstract and subjective to be measured, unlike weight or height. However, there are available psychological self-report measures that can be utilised to measure your level of self-efficacy.


For a simpler version that would help you informally assess your self-efficacy level, you may refer to the ‘Evaluating the Self-Efficacy Strength’ section in Kendra Cherry’s article on Self-Efficacy and Why Believing in Yourself Matters. There is also a psychometric scale to measure self-efficacy called General Self-Efficacy Scale by Matthias Jerusalem and Ralf Schwarzer which is reliable and valid. Administration instructions can be also found together with the questionnaire. 



1. Mastery experience

Bandura believed that experience allows self-efficacy to grow. These experiences of successfully doing something can function as proof that strengthens your belief about your capability of doing something. The first-ever article I wrote began with a thought of whether I can write something fun, engaging and informative at the same time.


Woman practicing her Self-Efficacy Levels by doing her art


However, after doing the same thing for over a year, I know I can without a doubt. My experience of writing articles every month gives me the confidence to believe that I am capable of producing quality content. If you wish to have more faith in yourself about any ability of yours, practice. Persistent practise IS your mastery experience.


2. Have the right circle

Verbal persuasion is also a great way self-efficacy can be increased. While we may doubt ourselves and our capabilities, having those who see the potential in us constantly encouraging us helps. Thus the importance of who you have in your circle.


To be honest, I’m blessed with a circle of friends and mentors who constantly hype me up. They have had more faith in my capabilities than I have had sometimes.


Three friends talking and having a picnic in a field


Their encouraging words have helped me many times. It helped me get out of my own head and believe I am capable of accomplishing something. Surround yourself with people who wouldn’t underestimate your abilities and always look at the dark side of how everything can go wrong. Your circle should be clapping the loudest for you.



3. How you approach failures matter

The mastery experience is not an upwards trajectory. It would be a roller coaster ride with its own ups and downs. While the ups can reinforce your belief in your capabilities, how you perceive your downs can influence your self-efficacy too.


Girl thinking by the window determine your self-efficacy and ways to improve them


Failures should be approached as learning opportunities. While I have published many articles, I’ve also had my fair share of articles being rejected. While it is disheartening, I try to assess why they might not be chosen. Moreover, from there, I can learn how I can improve. If you view your every failure as ‘I guess I’m just not cut out for this’, your persistence to continuously engage in mastery experience reduces. Thus, your self-efficacy will also reduce.


4. Avoid complacency

It’s easier to be convinced to stay in our comfort zones and cling to the familiar. To be complacent is to stick with what feels comfortable. So, instead, you’re not exploring the outside world including new experiences and opportunities.


If you’re set in your ways on how you feel about a specific skill of yours (e.g. debating – let’s just assume you think you’re a below-average debater), then chances are you’d rather cling to being below-average than engaging in mastery experiences.


Boy writing down to determine self-efficacy and trying to improve


Complacency convinces you to just settle for good enough. However, to increase our confidence in our capabilities, we need to always go above and beyond what we usually do. Here 3 simple things you can do to challenge yourself from feeling complacent. 



It is worth emphasizing again that no one is born with a certain level of fixed self-efficacy. Self-efficacy involves mindset changes so we can shape better perceptions about our own capabilities in life. Mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, how failure is approached, and avoiding complacency are only a few ways out of many to develop self-efficacy. All of us have what it takes to achieve greatness. It’s a matter of mindset.


If you want to learn more about how to improve your own self, check out 3 Negative Self-Beliefs You Should Start Challenging To Push Yourself.

Psychology student. Writer. Speaker. A bundle of sunshine.

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