What Are Expectancies and Self-Efficacy Expectations Social Cognitive Theory?

Social cognitive theory, developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, is a widely recognized framework that explains human behavior through the interaction of personal factors, environmental factors, and behavior. Within this theory, two important concepts are expectancies and self-efficacy expectations.


Expectancies refer to an individual’s beliefs about the consequences that will follow a specific behavior. These beliefs can be positive or negative and can greatly influence an individual’s motivation to engage in certain behaviors. Positive expectancies tend to increase motivation, while negative expectancies may decrease it.

For example, if someone believes that studying diligently for an exam will lead to a good grade, they are more likely to be motivated to study. On the other hand, if someone believes that no matter how much effort they put into studying, they will not perform well on the exam, their motivation to study may be diminished.

In social cognitive theory, expectancies are considered crucial determinants of behavior. They shape our choices and guide our actions based on our beliefs about the outcomes of those actions.

Self-Efficacy Expectations

Self-efficacy expectations are a subset of expectancies and pertain specifically to an individual’s belief in their own capabilities to successfully perform a particular task or behavior. It is the belief in one’s ability to achieve desired outcomes through their own efforts.

Self-efficacy expectations significantly affect motivation levels and the likelihood of goal attainment. When individuals have high self-efficacy expectations for a task or behavior, they are more likely to approach it with enthusiasm, persistence, and confidence.

Conversely, low self-efficacy expectations can lead to decreased motivation and avoidance of challenging tasks. If someone doubts their ability to succeed, they may be less likely to even attempt the task or may give up easily when faced with difficulties.

Bandura emphasized that self-efficacy expectations are not fixed traits but can be developed and strengthened through various means. Mastery experiences, vicarious learning, social persuasion, and physiological states are all factors that can influence self-efficacy expectations.

Application of Expectancies and Self-Efficacy Expectations

The concepts of expectancies and self-efficacy expectations have numerous applications in various fields such as education, sports, healthcare, and personal development.

In education, understanding students’ expectancies and self-efficacy beliefs can help educators design effective teaching strategies that enhance student motivation and engagement. By providing positive feedback, setting realistic goals, and offering support during challenging tasks, educators can foster higher self-efficacy expectations in students.

In sports psychology, athletes’ beliefs about their abilities to perform well in competitions greatly influence their performance. Coaches often focus on building athletes’ self-efficacy expectations by providing constructive feedback, creating a supportive team environment, and helping them develop coping strategies for adversity.

In healthcare settings, patients’ expectancies and self-efficacy expectations play a crucial role in treatment adherence and outcomes. Healthcare providers can improve patient compliance by addressing their concerns, providing clear instructions, and instilling confidence in their ability to manage their health effectively.


Expectancies and self-efficacy expectations are integral components of social cognitive theory. They shape our motivation levels, behavior choices, and ultimately impact our performance outcomes. By understanding these concepts and working towards fostering positive expectancies and high self-efficacy beliefs within ourselves and others, we can unlock our full potential for success in various domains of life.