Psychological Self-Help

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1457
fuels, educate everyone, solve Russia's problems, and stop a bad
habit--would require many phenomenal skills. But some people do see
themselves as being an effective change agent in many important
areas of living. Others, no doubt, feel ineffective. Still others think they
can shine in only a few arenas. As yet, psychology has not adopted
psychological tests measuring generalized or specific self-efficacy.
Instead, researchers usually ask each subject to judge what specific
tasks he/she can do well (and his/her confidence in that judgment) or
"How well will you do on this task?" 
Self-efficacy involves or is related to four different concepts:
1.
Predicting our performance: "I think I can make 5 out of 10 foul
shots." 
2.
Rationally-based ("consider the facts") self-efficacy judgments:
"I'm a good shot. I'd rate myself an '8' on a ten point scale" or
"I cognitively realize the fact that I'm not good at all shooting
foul shots. I probably would make 1 or 2 out of 10 shots." 
3.
Gut-feeling-based ("don't worry about the actual facts") self-
efficacy judgments: "Oh, I love basketball. I'm a good shot, I'll
make 8 or 9 out of 10!" or "I feel I'm terrible at this. I
emotionally feel I can't make any out of 10." 
4.
The extended outcome or consequences expected from your
performance: "It will impress the hell out of my girlfriend if I
sink 6 or 8 out of 10" or "the other players will hate me if I
miss this shot." 
You can see the difference between prediction 1 (above) based on
past performance and prediction 2 based on one's intuitive feelings by
realizing that a professional basketball player, averaging 76% of his
foul shots, may consider himself a poor free throw shooter and lack
faith in his ability to make his next shot, whereas an 8th grader
averaging about 40% of his/her shots may think of him/herself as a
really good shot and feel pretty cocky about the next shot. Both skill
(percentage of shots made) and confidence (self-efficacy) are related
to actual performance, but skill, of course, is much more important in
the case of shooting baskets. (Naturally, skill and confidence are
usually closely related.) Confidence is probably more important than
skill in other situations, such as deciding to approach someone for a
date. 
Most studies have not heretofore distinguished between 2 and 3,
but recent work underscores the difference between intellectual-
rational assessment and emotional-intuitive judgment about your
efficacy. For instance, Sappington, Richards, Spiers, & Fraser (1988)
point out that a person may intellectually know that he/she can not
catch cancer or AIDS from a friend but may still feel as if it is
contagious. Our feelings are not rational, but emotions are related to
performance. For example, when patients at a pain clinic intellectually
estimated (as in 2 above) their ability to reduce their own pain, it had
no relationship to the actual outcome of their self-help efforts to
overcome pain. But the patients' gut-feeling estimates (as in 3 above)
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