4 Ways To Improve And Increase Self-Efficacy

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Self-efficacy is the belief we have in our abilities and competencies.

Albert Bandura (1977), a pioneer humanist and father of the concept of self-efficacy, defined it as “people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise their influence over events that affect their lives” (Bandura, 1994).

Self-efficacy determines how we think and feel about ourselves. For example, imagine someone who aspires to become a doctor but is not sure about his medical and academic potentials. He puts in all the effort and does his very best, but at the end of the day, he is unhappy as he lacks confidence in himself. What this person requires is self-efficacy – a strong sense of trust in himself.

Self-efficacy in all forms influence our thoughts, emotions, actions, and motivation. It operates mainly through the cognitive and affective channels and plays a crucial role in shaping our perception of life experiences. Bandura believed that we build a self-system based on our social skills, cognitive skills, observational learnings, and social backgrounds. This self-system is the backbone of our personality and self-efficacy is one of the essential components of it. (Bandura,1977)

Contemporary mental health interventions largely rely on promoting wellbeing by improving self-efficacy. Since self-efficacy affects almost every aspect of our well-being, psychologists argue that it is vital to help clients realize their self-worth and power through the challenges and topsy turvy of life.

This article is an exploration of the practical know-how of building, maintaining, and improving self-efficacy to aim for a better living. Through scientifically backed evidence and proven tips and tricks, this piece will open to you a whole new zone of improved self-confidence and guide you to achieving your desired state of well-being.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Self-Compassion Exercises for free.These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you increase the compassion and kindness you show yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students or employees show more compassion to themselves.

How Self-Efficacy Develops

The nascent stage of self-efficacy lies in the early childhood experiences of the first few weeks of our postnatal life. Factors like breastfeeding, contact comfort, and a conducive physical environment account for the individual development of the child and directly contribute to building the way he thinks about himself. (Dixon, 2001)

As we start growing and having diverse life experiences, our sense of self continues to strengthen itself. Positive feelings like autonomy, love, and support from family, education, and encouragement act as catalysts to self-efficacy. A person with high self-efficacy is more likely to feel confident, perceive failures as opportunities to try again, and a great team performer.

Self-efficacy keeps growing throughout life as we acquire new skills, have new experiences, take risks, and keep putting efforts to succeed.

Bandura recognized four salient sources of self-efficacy and asserted that it is by the interplay of these factors that we grow significant belief or disbelief in ourselves.


1. Mastery Experiences

Success directly impacts the way we think about ourselves. Succeeding in a task boosts confidence and increases the likelihood of achieving similar tasks again. We gain a sense of ‘mastery’ over it. Failure, on the other hand, does just the opposite. It breaks our confidence and leaves us in self-doubt.

Building efficacy through self-mastery requires resilience to manage expectations about success and accept failure positively. People who succeed after overcoming the obstacles and recuperating from the breakdown have a strong sense of self-belief efficacy.


2. Vicarious Experiences

The second source of efficacy roots from seeing others around us, especially people who we can relate to. Watching similar people succeed or hearing their success stories motivate us to believe that if they could, we can too.


3. Modeling Experiences

Role models have a vital role to play in building self-efficacy. Those are the people we follow, admire, and want to replicate. Their actions, principles, and achievements indirectly teach and persuade us to repeat the same. We are more willing to put in efforts and work in the direction that they show us.

The only challenge of this source is that if the role models are wrong in their ways, it is likely that their failures destroy our self-efficacy or we too get tempted to go astray.


4. Emotional and Physical Experiences

Our present mental and physical states influence self-efficacy to a great extent. For example, a depressed person, or a person who is fighting with a rough disease, is less likely to feel very confident and optimistic about themselves. Negative experiences and stress make us vulnerable whereas positive experiences and happiness make us feel good about ourselves.

Bandura (1977) said that the cues that we receive from our mind and body at any given moment and the way we perceive these cues shape our sense of self.

Internal and External Sources of Self-Efficacy


What is Low Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is when we have a high degree of belief in our abilities to do certain things. A creative person who aspires to become successful must trust his art before he steps out to reach his goals. Self-efficacy is not being too rude or overly critical about ourselves, but rather an objective way of understanding and acknowledging what we are truly capable of.

People with low self-efficacy have weak aspirations that often results in disappointments and lack of self-fulfillment (Margolis and McCabe, 2006).

People with low self-efficacy commonly share the following features:

  • They avoid accepting challenges as they fear failure.
  • They firmly believe that they are not capable of performing complicated tasks.
  • They focus on failures and adversities as personal shortcomings.
  • They are less confident about themselves.
  • They lack a sense of commitment to their works.
  • They have a hard time recovering from setbacks and underachievements.
  • They quickly lose interest in activities and works they were a part of.
  • They expect results without putting in efforts.
  • They are highly susceptible to depression and anxiety about facing failures.
  • They focus more on their weaknesses and less on their strengths.


Self-Efficacy And The Environment

Bandura suggested that the interplay of environmental factors with people having low or high self-efficacy predicts four variables (Bandura, 1997):

  1. Success – Person with high self-efficacy in a positive environment is likely to become successful and have a strong sense of self-motivation.
  2. Depression – A person with low self-efficacy who stays in a negative environment is likely to face failures and fall into a depressed state of mind.
  3. Apathy – Individuals with low self-efficacy who stay in a positive environment feel demotivated and helpless when their efforts fail or remain unappreciated.
  4. Effort maximization – People with high self-efficacy in an unrewarding environment are more likely to intensify their efforts to get the desirable changes in life.


Environment versus self-efficacy


4 Examples of Low Self-Efficacy

1. Low self-efficacy and child-rearing

A practical study on maternal self-efficacy and its influence on the incidence of learned helplessness (which is the opposite of self-efficacy) revealed that new mothers who had a high illusion of control over responding to the crying of audiotaped baby voices were more susceptible to helplessness. They were less attentive and showed symptoms of negative defense against mothers who had low illusionary control.

The study indicated that a high illusion of power is a dominant indication of low self-efficacy and is not proper behavior to be shown to kids.


2. Low self-efficacy and depression

A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 1997 explored the ways self-efficacy and learned helplessness impacted individuals with brain and spinal cord injuries. On examining a large sample of multiple sclerosis patients, researchers found that low self-efficacy was a powerful indicator of depression and helplessness among patients with nervous system dysfunctions.

Furthermore, the study also indicated that cognitive distortions in people with low self-efficacy indirectly contributed to their depressive symptoms and led to impaired perceptions of the self and the surroundings.


3. Low self-efficacy and pain management

Halsted Holman and Kate Lorig had developed a pain management intervention program for helping patients with arthritis and related conditions. Their research revealed that patients who had a low score on overall self-efficacy showed fewer improvements during the program. On the other hand, highly self-confident people showed significant pain reduction by the end of the program.

Besides, they were always proactive and ready to take actions that could relieve them.


4. Low self-efficacy and career development

A research publication on women’s career development argued that the reason why many professionals fail to sustain motivation at work is the lack of self-efficacy. Despite the challenges of sex differences and job distributions, the investigators believed that strong expectations of personal efficacy play a key role in career achievements and accomplishments for most women.

The research was fundamentally based on Bandura’s principles and discussed the necessity of promoting self-efficacy programs at the workplace to boost professional success.


4 Ways to Increase Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy enhances self-control. It impacts all the functional aspects of human functioning – from personal relationships to professional commitments, and social interactions, and relates to a low risk of mortality (Taylor, 2012). Together with resilience, self-efficacy helps in achieving goals and acquiring a sense of accomplishment in life, and here are some ways that can help in enhancing efficacy:


1. Stay in the stretch zone

Goal-setting is crucial to building self-efficacy. Studies have shown that out of the three personal zones of achievement (the comfort zone, the stretch zone, and the panic zone), highly productive people lie at the stretch zone where they can make the most of their abilities.

In the stretch zone, we are more willing to take reasonable chances and are resilient to failures and setbacks. Unlike in the panic zone or the comfort zone where we are unwilling to take chances or extend our efforts, the stretch zone allows us to have an insightful perception about us and increases the likelihood of achieving self-contentment.

We can try entering the stretch zone by:

  • Setting goals.
  • Doing things that we like to do.
  • Trying new things and facing challenges.
  • Accepting failures and criticisms positively.
  • Approaching the goals slowly and not over-stressing about results.


2. Set simple goals

Low self-efficacy makes us either doubt our abilities or perceive the tasks to be more difficult than they are.

As a result, we don’t make enough effort, blame ourselves for our under achievements, and destroy the trust in ourselves. A good idea to build and sustain self-efficacy is to set goals reasonably and approach them one by one. We can break the goals into smaller subgoals and work on achieving them one at a time.

By doing this, we can rejoice our small successes, and our goals become more manageable and accessible.


3. Look at the bigger picture

One of the most significant qualities of people with high self-efficacy is the power to look beyond short-term losses and not letting them break their self-trust. We have higher goals to achieve, and sticking to this perspective helps in maintaining a high self-efficacy. Self-efficacy allows us to sort our priorities, make better plans, and focus on them more efficiently.


4. Reframe obstacles

A practical psychological tool to increase self-efficacy is identifying obstacles, thought blocks, and reframing or replacing them with positive interventions. Reconstructing the way we look at failures and feel about them help a lot in changing the way we think of ourselves.

For example, a person with high self-efficacy is not likely to perceive losses as personal shortcomings. He would instead try to cope with it and find ways to handle it positively. Building self-efficacy allows us to understand that challenges and failures are inevitable; by continuing to believe in ourselves and our abilities, we can surely attain fulfillment.


How To Best Promote Self-Efficacy In The Classroom

Significant studies have shown a positive learning environment can play a crucial role in building self-efficacy among students of all ages. Research on teaching methods and self-efficacy found that when teachers followed a more interactive and collaborative learning approach, students had a higher self-efficacy score than when they learned in strict or closed classroom situations.

Although the study was conducted on a group of students pursuing a particular subject, the results were validated and held consistent when re-examined later on different age groups (Fencl and Scheel, 2005).

Undoubtedly, classroom training is one of the crucial and most important media for promoting and building self-efficacy.

A student with strong efficacy will:

  • Feel confident about his/her learning abilities and will do good in assessments.
  • Be interested in taking part in classroom activities and being proactive all the time.
  • Use the information efficiently to benefit his academic career.
  • Be motivated to apply and adapt to new lessons.
  • Show strong intrinsic motivation to learn from mistakes and overcome hurdles.
  • Inspire others with his/her way of life and achievements.

Bandura said that co-operative and holistic learning structures help students to work in association with each other and feel good about themselves. In such conditions, they are likely to feel rewarded and will do better in academic assessments than in isolation. Conducive learning environment allows children to face and enjoy the challenges – they perceive difficult tasks as something to cater to, rather than to shun away from. And as a result, they become more persistent, resilient, and self-assured.

Here are some ways that can help in promoting self-efficacy in the classroom:


1. Effective Communication

Effective communication includes teaching the students how to identify their goals, acknowledge their abilities, and training them to focus only on their strengths. Teaching self-efficacy is more comfortable when students are self-aware and know their intentions.

Simple ways of practicing effective communication in the classroom environment may include praise when a student puts in real efforts. He may or may not succeed, but the encouragement will prevent him from doubting himself. By using affirmations like “You can do it,” “You are smart enough,” and “I trust you,” we can help the kids to believe in their potencies.


2. Honest Feedback

Appreciations must be honest. If teachers go on praising students in the absence of any hard work or achievement, it will end up making the child delusional about himself. Teachers and classroom facilitators must be watchful of when to praise and when to point the mistakes, and at the same time, ensure that no sincere effort goes unappreciated.

Praising a child for his achievements, no matter how small they may be, goes a long way in boosting their self-confidence, and especially when it comes from a teacher or guide. It helps them to try harder the next time and learn from his mistakes.


3. Healthy Environment

A great way to endorse self-efficacy in the classroom is by creating a stress-free conducive learning atmosphere. An interactive lesson, a high-energy and non-judgmental assessment, or an engaging group activity can help in making the learning environment more comfortable.

As a result, students will feel less burdened and can communicate without any barriers. Many pedagogical studies have emphasized that group activities on nature make the students better team performers and foster a sense of self in them.


4. Positive Strategies

Positive pedagogical strategies for building self-efficacy in the classroom involve strategies that imbibe strength and self-belief in students (Schunk and Pajares, 2002). Such methods may include –

  • Setting short-term goals and helping students to achieve them one by one
  • Allowing them to talk about their problems and how they plan to deal with them
  • Not comparing a student with other students and letting them follow their own pace
  • Setting goals according to individual abilities


5. Modeling

Teacher and guides have a strong influence on students. They become role models, and kids draw inspiration from them. To instill self-efficacy in children, it is thus vital that the teachers and facilitators are efficient too. A student who grows up learning from someone who is under-confident or less supportive will likely be showing similar traits himself. And a child who learns from a confident and positive person will start building a firm trust in himself and reflect the positive energy that he receives in the classroom.


How to Improve and Build Self-Efficacy in Students

1. Choose task difficulty wisely

If tasks are too difficult or too dull, students may lose interest or avoid it for fear of failure. Moderately difficult tasks that are interesting and engaging are the ones that build self-confidence and increase attention in children (Margolis and McCabe, 2006).


2. Use peer role models

Sometimes, it is easier for children to relate to people of their age or at least close. Watching a friend work hard and come up for solving problems may encourage a child to try that himself. But at the same time, teachers must remember not to make the comparisons so stark that it hurt the children or make them feel small.


3. Allow freedom

Self-efficacy starts with autonomy. Children who are allowed to decide for themselves and choose their ways are more self-reliant and independent. It is always a good idea to let them choose their tasks so that they get to do what they want to and not lose interest in it.


4. Active feedback from students

Feedbacks are powerful classroom tools for building efficacy. Strategies may include asking students to write their comments and feedbacks at the end of each learning session or keeping the last few minutes of the class for letting them ask questions and discuss their opinions. Vocalizing own thoughts let the students judge themselves and also helps the teachers to understand what areas to address.


5. Active feedback from teachers

Feedbacks must be mutual and benefit both the teacher and the students in understanding themselves. It is an excellent idea to frequently give honest feedback to students about their performance and future possibilities.

Teachers and educational guides must remember that the purpose of feedback is to enhance self-awareness, and not to discourage the kids, so choosing the words wisely is a priority, whether giving positive or negative feedback.


6. Promote efficacy in teachers

Enhancing self-efficacy in teachers increases the probability of making the students more self-reliant. Teachers who are highly productive about themselves and their teaching skills have a better impact on students and can influence them easily. They can bounce back from their stress and have firm control of their teaching style, all of which contribute to making the students highly self-liable (Hoy and Bandura, 2003).


7. Problem-solving opportunities

Daily problem-solving opportunities make the students face problems without fear and increase their chance of winning. It prepares them to meet challenging tasks and proceed from less severe to more difficult tasks. Besides, problem-solving also keeps their mind engaged and improves their decision-making abilities. Teachers can ask them to explain why they reached a particular solution for a specific problem and let them verbalize their thoughts.


8. Multiple learning media

Using a variety of learning sources can help students to sustain their interest in the task and engage more in it. For example, instead of the traditional chalk-talk or lecture methods, teachers can use more visual images, slide shows, online activities and resources to impart knowledge to the kids. Such environments, also known as ‘skilled navigation settings’ (Mahar, 2016), make the class more exciting and invite creativity in the whole learning procedure.

Needless to mention, they significantly aid in increasing self-efficacy and flexibility among students and teachers (American Society Of Horticultural Science, 2011).


Increasing The Self-Efficacy Of Students With Learning Disabilities

Students with diagnosed learning disabilities often show lower self-efficacy than other children of their age (Klassen, 2002; Hen and Goroshit, 2012). Self-efficacy directly contributes to academic achievements and success, which is why it is a prime concern for most LD education providers to help the students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or other learning disorders, to be able to trust themselves (Irizarry, 2002; Prat-Sala & Redford, 2010; Margolis and McCabe, 2006).

Low self-efficacy and confidence are related to anxiety, stress, and depression among young students with LD (Pajares, 2006). It is vital to instill a sense of efficacy in disabled students as they can find the strength to face challenges and bounce back from disappointments or failures (Prat-Sala and Redford, 2010, p. 285).

Children with any form of learning disability are susceptible to getting depressed after academic underachievements or seeing them progressing much slower than their friends. They are in constant need of upliftment and reassurance that they have the abilities to achieve what they want to (Klassen, 2002).

Introducing efficacy building tasks and group activities in the classroom can go a long way in bringing the children back from the helplessness and take ownership of their abilities and disabilities (Bandura, 1997; Firth, Frydenberg, and Greaves, 2008). Self-efficacy plays a significant role in helping the kids to make academic choices, develop their skills, and take up new challenges to upgrade their knowledge.


Peer Mentor Program

One of the most popular and practical approaches to incorporating self-efficacy in LD students is the Peer Mentor Program.

A research paper published by Christa Steiner, University of Southern California emphasized how the peer mentor program can be implemented in classrooms to benefit the learning disabled kids.

The program involves matching students based on their gender, cultural groups, and type of disability, and assigning them to peer mentors with similar backgrounds. The mentors would share with them personal experiences of successes, motivational stories, and guide them in their daily assignments.

The purpose of this is to evoke vicarious experiences so that the disabled kids can relate to someone alike and work on building themselves (Dembo and Seli, 2008; Margolis and McCabe, 2006).

During the peer mentorship program, the kids are encouraged to interact more, talk about their problems, and share their feelings. And since the peer mentor is a role model who is almost the same age and looks the same, there is no reason for the LD children to not believe or form associations with them.

Some strategies of the peer mentorship programs include:

  • Effective communication is a vital part of any peer mentorship. Mentors share stories of their achievements and failures to motivate the disabled students and encourage them to share their feelings too.
  • Appreciation and constructive feedback when the participants do something useful. Mentors explain with reason when they commit a mistake and help them not to repeat the same error (Bandura and Locke, 2003).
  • Mentors give positive reinforcements upon task completion to keep the students motivated and willing to repeat the same behavior.
  • There are regular self-assessments to monitor progress. It helps students to set self-raised goals and aim for greater self-satisfaction on watching their progress scores.


A Look at Building Self-Efficacy in Adults

Self-efficacy has a vast contribution to human well-being and functioning. As Bandura put it, “If self-efficacy is lacking, people tend to behave ineffectually, even though they know what to do.

As an inseparable aspect of personal functioning, self-efficacy impacts our cognitive processes, forms the basis of human motivation, enhances our organizational skills, and alters our emotional experiences (Caprara and Cervone, 2003).

The foundation of achievement and success is efficacy. It lets us believe that it is our actions that produce the outcomes we desire – so unless we choose to do something positive, or try to attempt something new, there is no chance of us succeeding or accomplishing a task. It shows us why we should approach a job with positivity and keep the self-doubts aside.

Positive scientists over the years have argued that our success and failures depend more on how we perceive the task to be, rather than how the work indeed is. The subjective reality matters the most, which is why it is so important to have an optimistic view of anything that we do.

Self-efficacy is more specific and circumscribed than self-confidence or self-esteem. It is an indicator of the level of trust and confidence we show in our actions. As such, developing self-efficacy is more accessible than working on other personality traits, and some measures include:

  1. Assessments of the individual’s capacity to achieve a specific positive outcome on a particular task.
  2. Assessments of the ability of an individual to engage and participate in positive actions that might lead to the desired outcomes.

Developing self-efficacy is the combination of the three sources – self-mastery, role modeling, and verbal persuasion. Most interventions that target to improve self-efficacy in the adult population are based on these sources.


1. Self-mastery

As discussed earlier, self-mastery involves structuring practices that result in success and avoid the chances of failure. For example, when a pilot obtains training before his first flight, he gets all-around exercise for long hours where he polishes his skills, practice the desired actions, and prepares himself for any unexpected situations on air. This practice makes him more confident about his abilities and reduces his chances of failing in the real task.


2. Role modeling

Most organizational setups follow this approach to foster self-efficacy among clients and personnel. In role modeling sessions, participants observe the actions of others and gain an objective understanding of favorable performances. It gives them an idea of why they should replicate the same and how they would benefit from building trust in themselves.

Observing role models boost motivation and give us the power to accept and accomplish challenging tasks.


3. Verbal persuasions

Verbal persuasions include encouragement and praise words from others. For example, positive feedback from a customer can immediately motivate a new seller and give him the zeal to keep working hard. Verbal persuasions can also be self-directed.

For example, keeping aside a few minutes each day to praise yourself and repeat affirmations like – “I am trying hard”, “I can overcome this”, “I am doing good,” “I look good”, etc., can immensely help in creating a strong sense of self. Irrespective of our talents, success, and failures, we can get the power to accept ourselves and keep seeking for better results.


4 Activities to Help Improve Self-Efficacy

1. Three Things Exercise

The Three Things Exercise is a self-help measure that allows us to keep track of our daily activities and how they make us feel. It is also a great way to prioritize our tasks without much effort.

The practice is simple as explained below:

List three things that you did in the past week and that went well?

    1. ____________________________________________________
    2. ____________________________________________________
    3. ____________________________________________________
How did they make you feel?

    1. ____________________________________________________
    2. ____________________________________________________
    3. ____________________________________________________
What are the three things/achievements that you wish to accomplish in the next few weeks/months?

    1. ____________________________________________________
    2. ____________________________________________________
    3. ____________________________________________________
How would you feel after you have accomplished them all?

    1. ____________________________________________________
    2. ____________________________________________________
    3. ____________________________________________________


2. Positive Self-Talk

Self-efficacy and self-awareness are often mentioned in the same lines. Efficacy starts when we start questioning ourselves and listening to our answers. A highly efficient person is well aware of what he feels and why he feels so.

He is ready to compliment himself, criticize himself, and ask questions to the self. For example, if something makes us happy, why does it make us so? Why do we feel scared to try new activities? Is it the fear of failing or past trauma that stops us from attempting new tasks?

We must keep questioning ourselves to gain a deeper insight into the mind and build a powerful sense of self.

Positive self-talk practice:

Set aside a couple of minutes every day to face yourself and talk to yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself whatever you want to. You can shower compliments, motivate yourself to keep trying hard or ask yourself what is making you happy or sad.

Remember to answer to yourself and observe what your inner voice says. A good option would be to journal your self-talks and come back to them later to see how positive or negative they are.


3. Looking back at achievements

Focusing on failures and under achievements is easy. But a person with high self-efficacy would tend to focus more on what he has gained rather than what he lost. Recalling achievements and past successes reignite the self-confidence and make us feel that if we could do it then, we can do it now.

A good way of practicing this is by making a list of all our past accomplishments and successes, and coming back to them every time our self-trust stumbles. No matter how small the achievements are, keeping a note would prevent us from losing perspective or demeaning ourselves.


4. Self-awareness

To develop efficacy, we have to become the person who knows us. Gretchen Rubin had said, “self-awareness is a key to self-mastery,” and self-mastery is the direct path to self-efficacy. Practicing self-awareness can be, and there are multiple ways to do it.

  • We can keep a thought journal to record our thoughts and feelings at all times.
  • We can read the physical cues; for example, a ‘butterfly’ feeling in the stomach generally indicates nervousness or clenching jaws are an indicator of anger. Watching these small physical symptoms can help us understand our feelings that very moment.
  • We can also catch thoughts randomly and try to gauge what we are pondering on right now, and why.


5 Worksheets Designed to Build Self-Efficacy

1. The Self-Efficacy For Exercise (SEE) Scale

The SEE Scale is a simple self-report measure that indicates the self-efficacy of the participants. The test consists of nine statements that reflect your mental well-being, and the responses are categorized on a 10-point scale. Higher scores in the test imply a higher self-efficacy, and the proof is applicable for a wide range of the population.


2. Self-Efficacy Worksheet by McAuley

This exercise was first published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 1993 and has been in use since then. The test items explore daily practices (such as exercising), and the participants respond to them by how confident they feel about practicing them.


3. Self-Efficacy Scale by Neupert, Lachman, & Whitbourne

This scale is an adaptation of Albert Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Model and contains questions about daily exercising. The answers are recorded on a Likert Scale ranging from 1 (Very sure) to 4 (Not at all sure), and a higher score indicates greater self-efficacy in the participant.


4. The Who I Am Assessment

The Who I Am is a very interestingly designed test that aims to increase efficacy by making the respondent more aware of himself. The test contains simple questions regarding who we are, what we like to do, places we have been, things we are good at, etc., and by the end of the test, the respondents feel more self-aware and regardful of ourselves.


5. Self-Efficacy Worksheet by Alexandra Franzen

An enjoyable and colorful exercise, the I Am Worksheet is an excellent self-assessment for improving self-efficacy. It is widely used in professional setups as well as individual therapy settings and gives the respondent a clear picture of why he should not stop believing in himself.


How to Improve Self-Efficacy in the Workplace

Most organizations today focus on recruiting people after screening how productive they are. Since a high-level of self-efficacy predicts high productivity, better workplace interactions, and a high output level, it is only reasonable for organizations to favor and promote self-efficacy among the workers, and here are some ways to do so. (Kanter, 2006)


1. Training and development

To increase employee self-efficacy, organizations can conduct specialized training programs and orientations that promote self-efficacy.

These programs are usually focused on workplace demands and provides an opportunity for employees to come together and build a strong self-perception.


2. Systematic self-management

Team leaders and supervisors can help employees in increasing their self-efficacy by setting reasonable goals, allowing them to express their opinions, active feedback mechanisms, prioritizing targets, and helping them with time-management and organizational skills.


3. Ensuring appropriate job demands

A great way to enhance employee efficacy is by maintaining clear standards of the job requirements and choosing candidates who are the best fit for it. Personality screening and other objective measures can help the workers understand if their skills are a good fit for the job and decide accordingly. This prevents the likelihood of failure or underachievement and makes the worker more confident about his skills.


4. Environment

Fostering a work environment that is conducive for all employees and supervisors is a primary requisite for sustaining efficacy. A highly rewarding work environment is where people support each other, work as a team, focus on building skills, and accept criticisms positively. Such a condition is a sure shot indicator of high employee efficacy and better performance culture.


A Take Home Message

As the famous saying goes, “They are able who think they are able.

Self-efficacy allows us to progress every day, despite the inevitable inequities life puts in front of us (Bandura). Having a strong belief in oneself helps us in all walks of life, and at all ages.

Our trust in our potencies and capabilities help us sustain motivation and be more resilient to stress and adversities. With efficacy, we can accept ourselves as who we are, develop a conviction in our beliefs, and gain the strength to follow them.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Self Compassion Exercises for free.

  • Axtell, C. & Parker, S. (2003). Promoting role breadth self-efficacy through involvement, work redesign and training.
  • Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The exercise of control. New York: W.H.Freeman and Company.E mory University, Division of Educational Studies, Information on Self-Efficacy: A Community of Scholars.
  • Bandura, A. (1991a). Self-efficacy mechanism in physiological activation and health-promoting behavior.
  • Clark (2001). Learning from media: Arguments, analysis, and evidence. Charlotte, NC: Information.
  • Frank (2011). The pillars of the self concept: Self-esteem and self-efficacy.
  • Kanter, R. M. (2006). Confidence: How winning and losing streaks begin and end. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.
  • Schunk, D. H. (1989). Self-efficacy and cognitive skill learning.
  • Snyder and S.J. Lopez, Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 227-287). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized Self-Efficacy scale.
  • https://www.theeducationhub.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/6-strategies-for-promoting-student-self-efficacy.pdf

About the Author

Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury holds a postgrad in clinical psychology and is a certified psychiatric counsellor. She specialized in optimizing mental health and is an experienced teacher and school counselor. She loves to help others through her work as a researcher, writer, and blogger and reach as many as possible.


  1. Sander

    I was not able to find the referenced article / book of Kanter (2006) in your references – can you help me with that?

    • Annelé Venter

      Hi Sander,

      Apologies for that omission, please see as follows:

      Kanter, R. M. (2006). Confidence: How winning and losing streaks begin and end. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.

  2. Glenn Brown

    Wow. This really explains a lot of the issues in my first 47 years of life.

    • Vidya Ketwaroo

      This article brought out a lot, I used some of this information in my presentation, thank you for sharing. This showcases skills and practices in self-efficacy.

  3. Alan Baker

    This is my most sought after skill building area for the students that I work with, thanks for continuing to build knowledge and awareness around this critical developmental area! I plan to share and borrow bits of your wisdom to continue the effort. Many thanks!

  4. Ndapeua Shifiona

    Very helpful article and the practical examples assist students in understanding the concept ‘self-efficacy’

  5. Jacob

    This is brilliant, i would love to use this as a reference in my current PGCE assignment, particularly where you talk about the pedagogical approaches in teaching. May i have your references for this?

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Jacob,

      Of course! Here’s how you’d reference this post in APA 7th:

      Chowdhury, M. R. (2021). 4 Ways to improve and increase self-efficacy. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/3-ways-build-self-efficacy/

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  6. Kelly

    I love your articles. I’ve only been on positivepsychology a few times, but each time it’s been an article of yours that drew me in! Great work! This is an important topic that can help many people.

  7. karen wise

    This was interesting.

  8. Richard Osei Boateng

    Hello Madhuleena, thanks for doing a wonderful work. I met this article right at my point of need. Couldn’t keep my eyes off reading it all

  9. K

    Great read. It would be great to find out more about the rationale behind people with low self-efficacy expecting results without putting in the efforts or losing interest in works they are part of.Thanks!

  10. Mauricio Aldana

    Thank you, Madhuleena! Your article is both informative and enjoyable!

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Mauricio,
      Thanks for your feedback! Really glad to hear you found the article informative.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  11. Rosy

    Thank you for your article! It is very helpful for Chinese students preparing Gaokao!

  12. Dr. B. J. Prashantham

    Madhuleena , Very clearly written and practical tips too.non self efficacy.Thanks much

  13. Nathan

    I really loved how the article contained scientific studies as well as the actual & practical method to improve self-efficacy. Thank you so much for this!

  14. Finnur Þ. Gunnþórsson

    Great article – thank you so much! I appreciated your effort and knowledge that went into this. Love unto you!

  15. Umar Kawuwa

    I really appreciated your wonderful effort t for assisting humanity. I wish the best for you!

  16. N McCoy

    Very informational. Helpful in understanding someone with this problem.

  17. N McCoy

    Very helpful information in understanding someone with this problem.

  18. Adriana Malpica

    I found your research very interesting and useful to help us as teachers how can guide our students to detect and increase its serious situation that affects their learning process


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