Four decades ago, A. Bandura defined self-efficacy as people’s confidence in their ability to produce the desired levels of performance, levels which exert a certain influence upon the events shaping their lives.
Self-efficacy – as a cognitive process – generates motivation, options, emotions, ideas and behaviours. The person not only assesses one’s own abilities in the light of past success or failure, but chooses certain tasks, doses one’s effort and monitors one’s effects according to past experience.
This study aims to identify the differences between levels of self-efficacy according to gender, as well as to correlate self-efficacy with personality factors (sensation-seeking, sociability, and activity).
The study of personality is one of the essential preoccupations of psychology, but its complexity has generated difficulties and controversies in its attempts to define it.
No consensus has been reached in defining personality; each theorist offers his or her unique version of this concept.
The term personality comes from the Latin “persona”, meaning the mask ancient Roman actors used in their play, the face they presented to the audience.
I. Dumitru (2001) analysed the meanings of the term personality and established that it can be defined “from the inside” as a structured ensemble of biological, inborn elements (instincts, needs, type of superior nervous activity etc.), psychological elements (language, thought etc.) – formed throughout the individual’s development, as well as socio-moral elements (values, convictions, behavioural norms) acquired during the process of social integration. Personality can also be defined “from the outside” – as the effect produced by an individual upon others (the ensemble of human features and behaviours which elicit psycho-behavioural reactions from peers). Personality is made up of those unique characteristics which make us different from the others, which are constant to a certain extent and which allow us to predict our future behaviour (Opre, 2004).
Personality was described by U. Şchiopu (1997) as a term refers that refers to the availability and features that express a person (compare to the others) outlining its specific identity.
Personality is the dynamic organisation within the individual of those psycho-physical systems which determine one’s characteristic thought and behaviour.
N. Sillamy (2000) defined personality as a stable element of a person’s behaviour, that which characterises a person and sets him/her apart from another person.
The formation of personality begins in the first day of life, continues throughout school education and beyond it, in childhood and adolescence, but does not stop once professional activity is begun. Choosing a profession and adapting to its requirements involve the continuation of a personality development direction which would allow the development of skills and abilities, the expression of values and attitudes, the taking on of agreeable roles, as, ultimately, professional success is a result of the interaction between one’s personality structure and the occupational environment. An adult’s personality and self identity are strongly connected to his or her main activity – work (Alexandrescu, 1998).
Work performance depends both on the person’s internal variables (age, sex, skills, interests and motivations, system of values, personality features, experience) and on external, physical and environmental variables (work space, equipment, work methods) and social-organisational variables (the organisation’s nature and policies, social atmosphere).
Associating these three concepts may seem absurd, but knowing the fact that professional satisfaction is an essential condition for obtaining professional performance, and that satisfaction is conditioned, among others, by certain features of one’s own personality, associating these three elements is not only appropriate, but also necessary in order to carry our work of the highest possible quality.
The concept of self-efficacy was introduced by the psychologist A. Bandura (quote by Băban, 1998), who used the Social Theory (subsequently named the Social-Cognitive Theory) as a conceptual base for this construct.
In the social-cognitive theory of personality, perceived self-efficacy is a central variable in the individual’s self-regulating mechanisms in relation to the environment.
In formulating and developing his theory, A. Bandura was rather interested in the principles governing human behaviour in situations involving tasks which need to be carried out.
The social-cognitive theory is a triadic causal reciprocity model in which a person’s behaviour and characteristics and the environment in which the behaviour manifests constantly interact. Thus, behaviour is not only the result of the interaction between environment and person, in the same way in which the environment is not merely the result of the interaction between person and behaviour. Change in one of the components carries implication for the others.
Facing the environment involves a complex set of behaviour. Cognitive, social and behavioural skills must be integrated in courses of action, must exert a certain control over the events which affect people’s lives. Bandura’s belief is supported by an increasing number of results from research in various fields, while efficient use and manifestation of these skills is strongly connected to people’s convictions, to personal self-efficacy (Lillie and Shortridge-Baggett, 2001).
The important role of personal efficacy decisions was explored in detail by Bandura under the name of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977).
The efficiency of one’s own value is a significant predictor for the work-family conflict and overloading, as well as for the wellbeing of employees and professional and parental satisfaction.
Bandura indicates the fact that the concept of self-efficacy has three dimensions: magnitude (level), power (strength) and generality.
Level refers to how difficult a person thinks it is to adopt a specific behaviour. Strength reflects the way in which a person is able to carry out a specific task. Generality refers to the degree in which self-efficacy convictions are positively linked.
Self-efficacy is also measured by obtaining strength, magnitude and generality ratings.
The theory of self-efficacy suggests the fact that self-efficacy, people’s beliefs in their abilities to carry out specific behaviours, is an important indicator of the way they function with regard to choices, expenses, effort and persistence; it is a thinking and emotional reaction pattern. In other words, self-efficacy influences the way in which people think, feel, motivate themselves and act. Thus, self-efficacy contributes to the quality of one’s psycho-social functioning in various contexts.
Comparing self-efficacy according to gender and correlating it (positive or negative) with different personality factors.
Research hypotheses – it is assumed that:
Hypothesis 1. There are statistically significant differences between self-efficacy at females compared to self-efficacy at males.
Hypothesis 2. There is a positive correlation between self-efficacy and impulsive sensation-seeking (search of new), both females and males.
Hypothesis 3. There is a positive correlation between self-efficacy and sociability, both females and males.
Hypothesis 4. There is a positive correlation between self-efficacy and activity, both females and males.
Material and method
Sample / Material: The experiment involved two lots of subjects:
lot 1 consists of 30 males aged between 24 and 41, employed as orderlies in two healthcare institutions in Tîrgu-Mureş;
lot 2 consists of 30 females aged between 23 and 52, employed as nurses in two healthcare institutions in Tîrgu-Mureş;
Work methods and technoques:
In order to assess personality and self-efficacy in the two lots, the following work instruments were used: a questionnaire and a scale specific subject matter, statistical processing of the results obtained (with the calculation of the Pearson coefficient), discussion and interpretation of results. The two instruments are:
The alternative five-factor model evaluation questionnaire (ZKPQ) from the CAS++ test battery (Miclea, Porumb, Cotârlea, Albu, 2009).
The ZKPQ questionnaire (Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire) is meant to assess the five factors making up the dimensions of the Alternative Five-Factor Model – AFFM): impulsive sensation-seeking, sociability, anxiety-neuroticism, aggression-hostility and activity (Miclea, Porumb, Cotârlea, Albu, 2009).
The Self-Efficacy Scale was built in order to measure self-efficacy, namely somebody’s conviction that his/her own actions can be and are responsible for the success of a certain activity.
The data obtained from the application of the tests were processed with the SPSS software, version 16.0. The t test for independent samples was used.
Results: data analysis and interpretation
The first operational hypothesis assumes the existence of a statistically significant difference in self-efficacy according to gender. The results of testing this hypothesis with the tools mentioned above and their statistical processing for the two lots (lot 1 = mens, lot 2 = women) are systematized in the tables I, II III and in figures 1 and 2 listed below.
Table nr. I – The analysis of the data in Table 1 and plotted in Figure 1 reveals the existence of important differences. For checking in which measure the differences are statistics significant were processed and the index t, and the results confirm the hypothesis 1; they are presented in Tables II and III.
Table I. Averages obtained from two lots at Self-efficacy Scale
Table II. The average difference between the two lots at Self-efficacy Scale
Legend: A.EF.F. = level of self-efficacy at femalesA.EF.B. = level of self-efficacy at males
Figure 1. The means of the two lots on the Self-Efficacy Scale
As can be observed from figure no. 1, the males lot shows a higher score mean (m = 28.4) compared to the mean of the feminine lot (m = 22.4).
The interpretation of results from the tables II and III shows that difference between the scores of the two lots is statistically significant (t = 4.298 at p = .000).
With regard to the second operational hypothesis, we presupposed the existence of a positive correlation between self-efficacy and sensation-seeking (“search of new”), for both lots. In order to confirm or infirm the hypothesis, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used.
As can be seen from the following tables (tables no. IV, V), there is a positive correlation between self-efficacy and sensation-seeking, significant at p = 0.01, both for lot 1 and lot 2.
Table III Test for Equality of variances
Table IV Correlation between self-efficacy and sensation-seeking for lot 1 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.B. = level of self-efficacy for malesC.S.B. = level of sensation-seeking for males
Table V Correlation between self-efficacy and sensation-seeking for lot 2 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.F. = self-efficacy level at womenC.S.F. = sensation-seeking level at women
The results presented in table no. IV shows a positive correlation between self-efficacy level and sensation-seeking level for males, r value, 962, significant at p = 0.01.
The results presented in table no. V shows a positive correlation between self-efficacy level and sensation-seeking level for females, r value ,666, significant at p = 0.01.
As for the third operational hypothesis, we conjectured the existence of a positive correlation between self-efficacy and sociability, for both lots, we are presented the results of testing in tables no. VI and VII. In order to confirm/infirm the hypothesis, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used. As can be seen from the following tables (tables no. VI and VII) we are presented the results for both lots.
Table VI Correlation between self-efficacy and sociability for lot 1 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.B. = self-efficacy level at malesSOC.B. = sociability level at males
The results presented on tables no. VI indicated a positive correlation between efficacy and sociability at males, r value, 863, significant at p = 0.01.
Table VII Correlation between self-efficacy and sociability for lot 2 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.F. = self-efficacy level at femalesSOC.F. = sociability level at females
The results presented on tables no. VII indicated a positive correlation between efficacy and sociability at females, r value, 661, significant at p = 0.01.
With regard to the fourth operational hypothesis, we conjectured the existence of a positive correlation between self-efficacy and activity, for both lots.
In order to confirm/infirm the hypothesis, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used.
As can be seen from the following tables (VIII and IX), there is a positive correlation between efficacy and activity, significant at p = 0.01, both for lot 1 and lot 2.
In the tables no. VIII and IX is analysed the Pearson correlation coefficient for lot 1 and lot 2 (see tables).
The results presented on tables no. VIII indicated a positive correlation between efficacy and activity at males, r value, 671, significant at p = 0.01.
Table VIII. Correlation between self-efficacy and activity for lot 1 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.B. = self-efficacy level at malesACTIV.B. = activity level at males
Table IX Correlation between self-efficacy and activity for lot 2 (Pearson coefficient)
Legend: A.EF.F. = self-efficacy level at femalesACT.F. = activity level at females
The results presented on tables no. IX indicated a positive correlation between efficacy and activity at females, r value ,803, significant at p = 0.01.
This study aimed to identify the existing differences between the levels of self-efficacy according to gender, as well as to correlate self-efficacy with personality factors (sensation-seeking, sociability and activity).
We demonstrated that there is a statistically significant difference between the efficacy level of men and that of women (the mean of the males lot was 28.4, and the mean of the females lot was 22.4).
With regard to calculating the correlation coefficients, we demonstrated the existence of a positive correlation between self-efficacy and sensation-seeking, self-efficacy and sociability, self-efficacy and activity, both for lot 1 and lot 2.
Bandura and other authors defined self-efficacy as people’s confidence in their ability to produce the desired levels of performance, levels which exert a certain amount of influence on the events affecting their lives.
One’s convictions related to one’s own self-efficacy also affect thought and attention processes, enhancing or reducing their efficiency.
Persons with perceived self-efficacy focus their attention on analysing and finding solutions to the problems they face.
People who consider themselves inefficient tend to limit their initiating and task-involvement behaviours, as they perceive task difficulties to be insurmountable.
In contrast to these, people who are confident in their own competence will seek different ways to exert their control on their environment and obtain the desired performance.
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