, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 287-310

Analysis of self-efficacy theory of behavioral change

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This article reports the findings of two experimental tests of self-efficacy theory of behavioral change. The first study investigated the hypothesis that systematic desensitization effects changes in avoidance behavior by creating and strengthening expectations of personal efficacy. Thorough extinction of anxiety arousal to visualized threats by desensitization treatment produced differential increases in self-efficacy. In accord with prediction, microanalysis of congruence between self-efficacy and performance showed self-efficacy to be a highly accurate predictor of degree of behavioral change following complete desensitization. The findings also lend support to the view that perceived self-efficacy mediates anxiety arousal. The second experiment investigated the process of efficacy and behavioral change during the course of treatment by participant modeling. Self-efficacy proved to be a superior predictor of amount of behavioral improvement phobics gained from partial mastery of threats at different phases of treatment.

This research was supported by Public Health Research Grant M-5162 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors are indebted to Laura Macht for her able assistance in administering the assessment procedures, and to Earl Neilson for his contributions to the preliminary work in this project. We are grateful to Paul McReynolds, Robert Peterson, and Duane Varble for arranging the research facilities at the University of Nevada, Reno.