A Critique of the Theory of Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their capacity to execute specific plans of action in prospective situations (Lopez-Garrido, 2020). Generally, it is an individual’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular case. The self-efficacy theory was developed in 1977 by a psychologist known as Bandura. It postulates that an individual’s self-efficacy can influence motivation, achievement, and self-regulation. The internal and external criticism evaluation process involves the accuracy and originality of information (Vitolla, Raimo, & Rubino, 2019). Internal criticism is trying to establish an author’s meaning and making a judgment as to the intention and prejudices of the writer. External criticism determines the validity by verifying the authenticity of a source. This paper presents a comprehensive critique of self-efficacy theory, using the internal and external evaluation process.

Internal criticism

Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is a social-cognitive theory that suggests that self-efficacy plays an integral role in influencing the achievement outcomes through its dynamic interplay of behavioral determinants and the environment. According to Klassen and Klassen (2018), the theorist believes that whereas self-efficacy affects an individual’s well-being, motivation, and achievements, the factors that influence behavior also influence the beliefs. People tend to be involved in things in which they are confident they can succeed as opposed to the ones they are not sure about success. The robustness of the theory provides enough evidence that the concept of behavior and environment cannot be ruled out when it comes to self-efficacy.

The theory’s constructs also maintain that four factors develop efficacy. These include performance outcomes, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological feedback. However, other researchers after have proposed more factors that determine and develop self-efficacy. James Maddux, for instance, a psychology researcher, proposes the fifth factor, visualization or imaginal experiences (Lopez-Garrido, 2020). He believes that someone who tries to portray their goals as achievable is more likely to achieve the goals, which contributes to a higher self-efficacy.

External criticism

The first step in establishing the originality of a theory is by identifying if the theory is authentic, then the level of authenticity. In their analysis, Dammann et al. (2021) note that the model of authenticity proposed by Lehman stipulates that authenticity is determined by the consistency, conformity, and connection of a piece to the body of knowledge. The theory of self-efficacy has been used constantly in research and practice in various fields. Most researchers agree with the theory, and even some apply the theory’s framework in their work. The relationship between the theory and its contribution to the body of knowledge over time clearly shows that the theory is authentic.

The self-efficacy theory has been applied in education, economics, and, more importantly, nursing. For instance, the theory has been applied in nursing to develop patient education programs for illnesses that require behavioral and self-management, such as diabetes (Jiang et al., 2019). Studies show that self-efficacy-focused programs have been considered effective in the patients. Therefore, it is worth noting that the self-efficacy theory is reliable and valid for application in research and practice that involves cognitive behavior.


As seen in the critique above, the self-efficacy theory is valid and reliable for application in research and practice. The use of external and internal evaluation of the theory has depicted its accuracy and originality. The theory’s constructs have influenced the understanding of human behavior in different experiences.



Dammann, O., Friederichs, K. M., Lebedinski, S., & Liesenfeld, K. M. (2021). The essence of authenticity. Frontiers in Psychology, 4021. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.629654

Jiang, X., Wang, J., Lu, Y., Jiang, H., & Li, M. (2019). Self-efficacy-focused education in persons with diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology Research And Behavior Management12, 67. https://doi.org/10.2147%2FPRBM.S192571

Klassen, R. M., & Klassen, J. R. (2018). Self-efficacy beliefs of medical students: a critical review. Perspectives On Medical Education7(2), 76-82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40037-018-0411-3

Lopez-Garrido, G. (2020). Self-efficacy Theory. Simply Psychology. Accessed 6th June 2022 from https://www.simplypsychology.org/self-efficacy.html

Vitolla, F., Raimo, N., & Rubino, M. (2019). Appreciations, criticisms, determinants, and effects of integrated reporting: A systematic literature review. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management26(2), 518-528. https://doi.org/10.1002/csr.1734

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