Thursday, September 27, 2012

Self Efficacy and being on a Roll

Self-efficacy is the degree to which one feels capable of effecting what they desire to effect. By sharpening one's skills in a craft, one can attain a high level of self-efficacy in relation to it.

According to renowned 20th Century psychologist, Albert Bundura, there are four basic ways to increase self-efficacy level. In order of most to least significant:

1) Past successes: the larger the number of past successes, the more competent and capable a person feels they are at an activity;

2) Vicarious leaning: Observing others succeed at an activity;

3) Persuasion: Having significant others offer encouragement and positive feedback;

4) Physiological state: Psyching oneself up (rather than feeling disinterested or anxious) can help albeit more superficially than the other ways.

These tactics are not mere theory, they have proved efficacious through extensive research and controlled experiments. The first, however, has proved most effective of the four, so I'll explore it a little bit further, in context of skateboarding.

Innumerable times, I've hammered away at landing a new trick, watching the consecutive failures hack away at my confidence and efficacy levels as a skater. Often times, the despondency bred by the string of defeats sapped my confidence levels to the point that I couldn't even land my usual bag of tricks.

On other occasions, however, I've employed a different strategy. After a series of failed attempts at a trick, instead of obsessively grappling with it, I'd start performing tricks that I recently learnt to land, and the performance of which help bolster my confidence in my skateboarding abilities. On returning to the elusive trick after this string of successes, I often land it first or second go. This, I believe, is largely owing the increased level in self-efficacy induced by my chain of successes.

This is the power of self-efficacy; the power of being on a roll...



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