Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 247–261

Effects of envisioning future activities on self-efficacy judgments and motivation: An availability heuristic interpretation

  • Daniel Cervone

DOI: 10.1007/BF01173406

Cite this article as:
Cervone, D. Cogn Ther Res (1989) 13: 247. doi:10.1007/BF01173406


This study examines the effects of envisioning factors that can either facilitate or hinder performance on an upcoming activity. Prior to engaging in a cognitive task, subjects focused on factors that could enhance or impair their performance. They then indicated their perceived self-efficacy on the activity and performed the task. Dwelling on factors that could impair performance diminished judgments of self-efficacy. Group differences in subsequent task persistence paralleled the differences in self-efficacy judgments. Regression analyses provided evidence that judgments of self-efficacy mediated the behavioral effects. Subjects displayed nearly identical levels of performance motivation whether or not they recorded self-efficacy judgments. The results are interpreted in terms of the availability heuristic. Self-efficacy judgments generally may reflect a small set of highly available personal and situational factors; focusing on particular aspects of an activity heightens the availability of these features, biasing efficacy judgments, which, in turn, regulate subsequent behavior.

Key words

self-efficacyavailabilityjudgment under uncertaintymotivation

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Cervone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA