for our efficacy judgments. (How many free throws have you made out
of 10 in the past?) It's not easy to change our self-appraisals. To
increase our confidence we need to repeatedly (not once) handle a
difficult (not an easy one) situation without working too hard and
without outside help. If you have to work much harder than others
seem to, you may doubt your abilities. Many people find it so hard to
become and stay efficacious that they lose hope, give up personal
control, and start depending on others (Langer, 1979).
Bandura contends that feeling efficacious has no consistent relation
to feeling good about yourself, e.g. he says a person may feel effective
(as a manipulator) but take no pride in such activities or feel
incompetent (as an artist, mathematician or tight rope walker) without
feeling low self-esteem. While these examples are valid, I still say that
success--e.g. being an effective self-helper--in most cases raises our
self-esteem as well as our feelings of self-efficacy (see method #1). In
order to feel able, in most situations you need to learn to be able.
By seeing or imagining others model successful or
unsuccessful responses in specific situations may give us
confidence or the jitters. We get the biggest boost in our confidence by
watching several persons (not one) similar to us (in traits and ability)
successfully conquer a tough challenge by determined effort (not
easily nor by virtue of great skill). Watching talented models will get
us familiar with the situation and give us some "tips," but such models
may intimidate us. Watching failures gives us confidence if we think
we can do better (failures may show us what not to do).
Other people could also model for us how to solve problems and
accurately form efficacy judgments by talking aloud as they solve
problems and compare their effectiveness with others. We could hear
how others think, how they assess their ability. This is called cognitive
modeling (Meichenbaum & Asarnow, 1979) or coaching.
We can be persuaded by a believable evaluator (perhaps not
an uninformed friend), especially via encouraging feedback, that we
have the ability to do something. Also, we can be cheered on to try
harder (which increases our chances of succeeding). Books try to build
our confidence (see motivational books cited in the motivation section
of chapter 4).
However, persuasion has not been, as yet, a powerful means of
building self-efficacy; actions seem to speak louder than words.
Interestingly, it is probably much easier for negative feedback to
undermine our confidence, than for encouragement to build it. Self-
doubts lead to not trying or to timid efforts which quickly and easily
confirm the negative self-evaluations. It is harder to be successful
than to fail.
Persuasion is the approach of the super salesperson or the
efficiency expert. They tell us to believe in our sales ability (or in the
customers' gullibility). Clearly, the insecure, self-doubting, nervous