Social cognitive theory and self-efficacy theory are two psychological concepts that are often used interchangeably or thought to be the same. However, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore both theories and highlight their differences.

What is Social Cognitive Theory?

Social cognitive theory (SCT) is a psychological concept developed by Albert Bandura in the 1970s. SCT emphasizes the role of social interactions and observations in shaping an individual’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions. According to this theory, individuals learn from observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes.

SCT has three main components:

1. Observational Learning: SCT proposes that individuals can learn new behaviors by observing others’ actions and their consequences.

2. Self-Regulation: SCT suggests that individuals can regulate their own behavior by setting goals, monitoring their progress, and evaluating their performance.

3. Self-Efficacy: SCT emphasizes the importance of self-efficacy in determining an individual’s behavior. Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to perform a specific task or achieve a specific goal.

What is Self-Efficacy Theory?

Self-efficacy theory (SET) is a concept developed by Bandura as an extension of SCT. SET focuses specifically on an individual’s belief in their ability to perform a particular task successfully. This belief can influence an individual’s motivation, effort level, persistence, and performance.

The main components of SET are:

1. Mastery Experiences: A person’s past experiences of success or failure can influence their self-efficacy beliefs. Vicarious Learning: Observing others’ successes or failures can also affect self-efficacy beliefs. Social Persuasion: Encouragement or discouragement from others can influence an individual’s self-efficacy beliefs.

4. Emotional and Physiological States: An individual’s emotional and physiological states can also affect their self-efficacy beliefs.

The Differences between Social Cognitive Theory and Self-Efficacy Theory

Although SCT and SET share some similarities, there are also several differences between the two theories. The primary difference is that SCT is a more comprehensive theory that includes self-efficacy as one of its components. In contrast, SET focuses specifically on self-efficacy beliefs without addressing the broader social learning context.

Another difference is that SCT emphasizes the role of social interaction and observation in shaping behavior, while SET focuses more on internal factors like beliefs and emotions. SCT suggests that individuals learn from observing others’ behavior, while SET suggests that individuals’ self-efficacy beliefs are shaped by their own experiences.

Conclusion

In conclusion, although social cognitive theory and self-efficacy theory share similarities, they are not the same concept. SCT is a broader theory that includes self-efficacy as one of its components, whereas SET specifically focuses on an individual’s belief in their ability to perform a specific task successfully. Understanding the differences between these two theories can help us better understand how individuals learn, develop skills, and achieve goals.