The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

A Behavior-Analytic Critique of Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory

  • Anthony Biglan


A behavior-analytic critique of self-efficacy theory is presented. Self-efficacy theory asserts that efficacy expectations determine approach behavior and physiological arousal of phobics as well as numerous other clinically important behaviors. Evidence which is purported to support this assertion is reviewed. The evidence consists of correlations between self-efficacy ratings and other behaviors. Such response-response relationships do not unequivocally establish that one response causes another. A behavior-analytic alternative to self-efficacy theory explains these relationships in terms of environmental events. Correlations between self-efficacy rating behavior and other behavior may be due to the contingencies of reinforcement that establish a correspondence between such verbal predictions and the behavior to which they refer. Such a behavior-analytic account does not deny any of the empirical relationships presented in support of self-efficacy theory, but it points to environmental variables that could account for those relationships and that could be manipulated in the interest of developing more effective treatment procedures.

Key words

Self-efficacy expectations correspondence behavior analysis rule-governed behavior phobias private events 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Biglan
    • 1
  1. 1.Oregon Research InstituteEugeneUSA

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