Bandura first became known for the clever design of his Bobo doll experiments. His theorizing has remained firmly grounded in research ever since. Over the years, Bandura has published more than 240 journal articles and book chapters, many of which describe original research. In addition, Bandura's concepts have attracted hundreds of other researchers as well.
As of 2004, an Emory University website devoted to self-efficacy theory listed 83 researchers in the field of educational self-efficacy alone. Even more impressive, it listed 344 graduate students currently conducting self-efficacy research. Their research projects involved self-efficacy beliefs as they related to a wide range of topics, including academics, career, collective action, computers and technology, creativity, gifted education, language arts and literacy, leisure activities, health, mathematics and science, music, motivation, organizations and business, social and psychological issues, special education, spirituality, sports and exercise, and teaching.
The whole scope of this research would be impossible to cover here. However, a few representative studies are described below. These studies provide a small glimpse of the kinds of studies that are currently being done on self-efficacy and social-cognitive theory.
Study of occupational self-efficacy Bandura and his followers claim that self-efficacy beliefs have a big effect on how people actually do their jobs. Some of the strongest evidence for this effect comes from studies in which people's opinions of their own abilities are artificially raised or lowered. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1991, Bandura and a colleague presented 60 graduate business students with a computer simulation of a furniture-making business. In the simulation, students were asked to play the role of manager and make decisions based on information about the manufacturing process, weekly orders, and available employees. The goal of the activity was to use goal setting, feedback, and social rewards to motivate the "employees" and maximize production.
The students were told that they would get feedback about how well they were doing at certain points in the activity. Their score was displayed on the computer screen along with another score that was supposedly the average earned by other participants in the study. The students' own scores were based on their actual performance, but the comparison scores were bogus. Compared to the students' scores, the comparison scores were preprogrammed to be either consistently similar, consistently lower, gradually lower, or gradually higher. During the simulation, the students were also asked to respond to computerized surveys about their self-beliefs.
When students were led to believe that they had gradually surpassed the comparison group, they reported an increase in their perceived self-efficacy. They also outperformed the students in the other groups. Within the simulation, they showed improvements in using efficient thinking strategies, setting challenging goals, and having positive emotional self-reactions to their own performance. In contrast, when students were led to believe that they had gradually fallen behind the comparison group, their actual performance suffered. Just changing how these students viewed their abilities seemed to alter their behavior in a way that could spell the difference between business success and failure in the real world.
Study of educational self-efficacy Self-efficacy has also been studied in schools. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1999, Bandura and his Italian colleagues looked at 282 children from two middle schools near Rome.
The children were asked to fill out several questionnaires that assessed their perceived self-efficacy, depression, and other factors. Teachers and other students also rated the children's behavior and depression, and the children's academic performance was graded by their teachers. One to two years later, the children's depression was assessed again.
The researchers found that children with a low sense of their own academic and social efficacy were more prone to depression than those with a high sense. This was true at the time depression was first assessed, and it was still true one to two years later. In the short run, the children's depression seemed to be related mainly to their perceived lack of academic ability. In the long run, low perceived self-efficacy seemed to keep the depression going by way of poor academic achievement and behavior problems, such as aggressiveness, hyper-activity, anxiety, and withdrawal. A perceived lack of social skills also had an impact on depression, but the effect was stronger in girls than in boys.
On the other hand, children with a strong belief in their own abilities benefited in several ways. They were able to better manage their schoolwork, which led to higher grades. They also had good social skills and few behavior problems. When it comes to school, Bandura says that a strong sense of self-efficacy can motivate students to do their best and help them bounce back from occasional disappointments. It also seems to help protect them from developing depression.
Study of health self-efficacy One way in which self-efficacy beliefs are thought to affect physical health is by helping people take good care of themselves. When people with high perceived self-efficacy do become ill, they are better equipped to cope with their symptoms, which can reduce their stress and suffering in the short term. If the disease lasts for the long term, strong self-management skills can also help people feel better, maintain a more active lifestyle, and stick to their treatment plan. Over time, this kind of self-care may also help halt or slow the worsening of their disease and perhaps ward off serious complications.
For the past two decades, Kate Lorig and her colleagues at the Stanford University School of Medicine have been studying the effects of a patient education program for people with arthritis and other chronic illnesses. Lorig's program is based on self-management education. Rather than simply providing people with facts, it teaches them problem-solving skills. The underlying concept is that teaching people to cope with common disease-related problems enhances their sense of self-efficacy. This, in turn, improves their ability to adapt to the disease effectively.
Research has shown that Lorig's self-management program leads to better medical outcomes than ones that simply provide information. For example, Lorig's program has been shown to improve pain control in people with arthritis, enhance blood glucose control in people with diabetes, and reduce disability in people with a range of medical conditions. Some studies have also found that the program can reduce medical costs.
Empowerment programs Thousands of studies have now shown the many benefits of high perceived self-efficacy in a wide range of situations. The studies, in turn, have spurred the development of both individual therapies and group programs aimed at helping people get a more accurate sense of their own abilities. In one way or another, many of these approaches center around empowerment. In other words, the goal is to help participants become aware of their power to have some control over the environment and other people as well as to accomplish what they need to do. Of course, these ideas are also at the heart of Bandura's social-cognitive theory, including his concept of self-efficacy.
Employees can be empowered to take responsibility for their personal work. In the same way, students can be empowered to take charge of their own learning, based on guidance from their teachers. And medical patients can be empowered to accept responsibility for managing their own conditions and solving their own problems, based on information from their doctors. One implication of this approach is that people are active players in their own lives.
Programs designed to increase empowerment help people improve their problem-solving and decision-making skills. However, they also help people develop the sense of self-efficacy they need in order to put these skills to good use. Lorig's chronic disease self-management program is an excellent example of a research-based empowerment program. It is also a prime example of Bandura's ideas about human agency and self-efficacy put into practical use.
Modeling therapy Bandura's theories have also been applied to individual therapy. The best-known example is modeling therapy, in which someone with a psychological disorder is given a chance to observe a model cope with the same issues in a healthy way. In particular, this idea has been used for the treatment of phobias, or irrationally intense fears. With modeling therapy, the client is given a chance to watch a model interact with the feared object.
Bandura's early research in this area involved people with an irrationally strong fear of snakes. The client would look through a window into a laboratory room. In that room, there would be a chair and a table, on which sat a latched cage containing a clearly visible snake. The client would then observe the person who was serving as a model slowly approach the snake. The model would act terrified at first, but then appear to pull himself together and start over. Eventually, the model would reach the point where he could open the cage, remove the snake, sit down in the chair, and drape the snake around his neck. All the while, the model would be giving himself calming instructions.
After the client had observed all this, he would be invited to try it himself. The client would be aware that the model was an actor, not a person with a true phobia. Nevertheless, just seeing someone go through the motions of overcoming a phobia was very powerful. Many clients were able to imitate the whole routine after watching the model.
One drawback to this approach is its complexity. It requires not only a therapist, but also an actor, props, and two rooms with a window between them. To simplify the process, Bandura and his students have tested versions of the therapy using recordings of actors. They have also tried having therapists guide clients through the process in their imagination. These methods proved to be almost as effective as using live models.
Research on media violence Bandura's early work on observational learning helped inspire a host of studies on the influence of media violence. This continues to be a timely topic. Studies have shown that even children's television shows contain about 20 violent acts each hour. It comes as no surprise, then, that children who watch a lot of TV tend to think of the world as a scary and dangerous place.
Research has shown that children tend to behave differently after watching violent programs on television. Specifically, children who have watched violent shows are more likely to strike out at playmates, argue, and disobey authority figures than those who have watched nonviolent programs. Children are also less willing to wait patiently for things after viewing TV violence.
In addition, long-term research by Leonard Eron and his colleagues suggests that the effects of television violence may be quite lasting. The researchers found that children who watched hour after hour of TV violence while in elementary school tended to act more aggressively as teenagers. They also were more likely to be arrested and tried for criminal acts as adults.
Findings such as these helped spur the development of the V-chip, technology that lets parents block television programming they do not want their
Was this article helpful?
Thank you for deciding to learn more about the disorder, Osteoarthritis. Inside these pages, you will learn what it is, who is most at risk for developing it, what causes it, and some treatment plans to help those that do have it feel better. While there is no definitive “cure” for Osteoarthritis, there are ways in which individuals can improve their quality of life and change the discomfort level to one that can be tolerated on a daily basis.