Self-Efficacy and Outcome Expectancies

A Concluding Commentary
  • Irving Kirsch
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social/Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


Paraphrasing Ebbinghaus’s comment about psychology, self-efficacy has a short history, but a long past. Self-efficacy is a judgment about personal capabilities that is intimately tied to expectancies about the outcome of contemplated actions. Expectancy has been explored extensively by many psychological theorists and researchers (e.g., Atkinson, 1957; Edwards, 1954; Lewin, 1936; Rotter, 1954; Tolman, 1955; Vroom, 1964) and has led to many important applications. The term expectancy was used in a very broad sense, however. Expectancies derived from self-efficacy judgments were not distinguished from those derived from beliefs about contingencies in the social environment. Thus, drawing a theoretical distinction between these constructs was an important theoretical contribution (Bandura, 1977a). At the same time, because many early measures of “expectancy” were indistinguishable from contemporary measures of self-efficacy, careful reading of the earlier literature reveals many important facts about self-efficacy. For example, studies conducted prior to 1970 reveal that (1) the debilitating effect of failure on self-efficacy is greater than the facilitating effect of success, (2) spaced practice weakens the effect of the most recently experienced performance feedback on self-efficacy and strengthens that of prior feedback, (3) induced changes in self-efficacy for a particular task generalize to other tasks, and (4) self-efficacy is correlated across dissimilar tasks. (See Kirsch, 1986, for a detailed review of these and other findings from early research on self-efficacy.)


Outcome Expectancy Social Cognitive Theory Addictive Behavior Response Expectancy Coping Efficacy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irving Kirsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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