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Natalie Hopkins

Bandura’s Social Learning & Self-Efficacy Theories

2. Self-Efficacy Theory

1. Social Learning Theory


Social Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory is a concept that explains how people learn by observing the behaviours of others and imitating them.

What is Social Learning Theory?

Observation increases learning

Practice is important

Age affects social learning theory

Age influences the process of social learning theory and is a crucial factor in determining the depth of learning.

The more practice individuals have, the better they will be at learning

Individuals who observe the behaviour of others have a greater chance of learning new behaviours.

Social Learning Theory The Basics ...

Attention and retentionPaying attention and remembering are key factors

Observational learningOccurs from watching others behaviour closely

Reciprocal causationBehaviour, environment and the person all interact

Self-efficacyBelief in own ability crucial to learning


Role of Cognition

Vicarious Reinforcement


Four Milestones of Social Learning Theory

Observational Learning

Self-efficacy Theory

Social Persuasion

Vicarious experience


Physiological Feedback


Behaviour & Performance

The most influential source is the interpreted result of an individual's previous performance or mastery experience.“Mastery experiences are the most influential source of efficacy information because they provide the most authentic evidence of whether one can muster whatever it takes to succeed. Success builds a robust belief in one’s personal efficacy. Failures undermine it, especially if failures occur before a sense of efficacy is firmly established” (Bandura, 1997).If you want to learn a new skill or improve your performance, there's no better way than through practice. But how can you ensure that your efforts to acquire new skills will result in positive experiences? One reason why practice is so effective is that it helps people develop the belief that they are capable of acquiring new skills, even if they are not aware of it. This positive way of thinking is essential because part of the challenge of learning something new or becoming better at anything is having the confidence to carry out the task successfully.

One of the most significant sources of self-efficacy is through observing the experience of others. This involves watching other people successfully complete a task. When positive role models (especially those with a healthy level of self-efficacy) are present in a person's life, they are more likely to absorb some of those positive beliefs about themselves. These social models can come in the form of older siblings, friends, camp counselors, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and even employers.

Receiving positive verbal feedback during the execution of a complex task can influence a person's belief in their skills and capacity to succeed. For instance, when an elementary school child is told they have the potential to achieve greatness and pursue their heart's desires, verbal persuasion is put into practice. Verbal persuasion can be effective at any age, but it is more likely to instill self-efficacy when administered at a younger age.

An individual's wellbeing can heavily influence how they feel about their personal abilities in different situations. When struggling with depression or anxiety, for example, one might find it challenging to maintain healthy levels of well-being. While it is not impossible to build self-efficacy while dealing with these struggles, it is undoubtedly easier when a person feels healthy and well (Bandura, 1982). However, according to Bandura (1977), "it is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important, but rather how they are perceived and interpreted." Those with a high sense of efficacy tend to view their state of emotional excitement as a stimulant that enhances performance, while those with self-doubt consider their arousal as a hindrance. Therefore, individuals can improve their sense of self-efficacy by managing anxiety and enhancing their mood when facing difficult situations.

Self-Efficacy is a person’s particular set of beliefs that determine how well one can execute a plan of action in prospective situations (Bandura, 1977). To put it in more simple terms, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation.