Positive Psychology has three central concerns:
positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.
(1) Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.
(2) Understanding positive individual traits involves the study of strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom.
(3) Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance. http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/
Positive psychology is primarily concerned with using the psychological theory, research and intervention techniques to understand the positive, adaptive, creative and emotionally fulfilling aspects of human behavior. Seligman, M.E.P (1998). Learned optimism (2nd ed.). New York: Pocket Books
Self Efficacy: A Brief Overview
Stemming from research in positive psychology and traditional psychology, self-efficacy is described as being a belief that one’s ability to accomplish a task is a function of personal effort. Low self-efficacy, or a disconnect between ability and personal effort, is associated with depression.
By comparison, high self-efficacy is associated positive change, including overcoming abuse, overcoming eating disorders, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. High selfefficacy also has positive benefits for one’s immune system, aids in stress management, and decreases pain. Bandura A (March 1977).
Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychol Rev 84 (2): 191–215.
Self-efficacy is also described as the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. (Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Developing learners (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.)
Psychologists have studied self-efficacy from several perspectives, noting various paths in the development of self-efficacy; the dynamics of self-efficacy, and lack thereof, in different settings; interactions between self-efficacy and self-concept; and habits of attribution that contribute to, or detract from, self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make. These effects are particularly apparent, and compelling, with regard to behaviors affecting health. Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Social cognitive theory. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health behaviour (2nd ed. rev., pp. 127–169). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
For example, choices affecting health, such as smoking, physical exercise, dieting, condom use, dental hygiene, seat belt use, and breast self-examination, are dependent on self-efficacy. Conner, M. & P. Norman (2005) (Eds.), Predicting health behaviour (2nd ed. rev.).
Buckingham, England: Open University Press. In this area, self-efficacy beliefs are cognitions that determine whether health behavior change will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and failures. Self-efficacy influences how high people set their health goals (e.g., “I intend to reduce my smoking,” or “I intend to quit smoking altogether”). A number of studies on the adoption of health practices have measured self-efficacy to assess its potential to initiate behavior change.
Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Social cognitive theory. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health
behaviour (2nd ed. rev., pp. 127–169). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
Factors affecting self-efficacy
Bandura identifies four factors affecting self-efficacy
1. Experience, or “Enactive Attainment”
The experience of mastery is the most important factor determining a person’s selfefficacy. Success raises self-efficacy, while failure lowers it.
Children cannot be fooled by empty praise and condescending encouragement. They may have to accept artificial bolstering of their self-esteem in lieu of something better, but what I call their accruing ego identity gains real strength only from wholehearted and consistent recognition of real accomplishment, that is, achievement that has meaning in their culture.
2. Modeling, or “Vicarious Experience”
Modeling is experienced as,
If THEY can do it, I can do it, as well.
When we see someone succeeding, our own self-efficacy increases. Conversely, where we see people failing, our self-efficacy decreases. This process is most effectual when we see ourselves as similar to the model who is performing. Although not as influential as direct experience, modeling is useful for people who are particularly unsure of themselves, coupled with encouragement:
Jimmy is doing it. Susan did it. You can do it, too.
3. Social Persuasion
Social persuasion generally manifests as direct encouragement or discouragement from another person. Unfortunately, discouragement is generally more effective at decreasing a person’s self-efficacy than encouragement is at increasing it.