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Importance of self esteem & self efficacy for college students.


Any nation's growth be it economic, political or social, depends upon its youth. India has the privilege of having the highest youth population in the world, therefore it becomes imperative to nurture this young population in the right direction. One of the important ways of doing so is by providing the quality education to the students at all levels and especially when they reach transit from school to college level where they decide upon their career choices. It is a well known fact that heart of everything is the motivation. If there is no motivation, there will be no efforts that results in the underutilization of our hidden potential. It has been found in several studies that among the important factors affecting motivation are self esteem and self efficacy. It is believed that higher self-efficacy and self-esteem results in higher level of motivation in the students. Self-Efficacy is the extent or strength of one's belief in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. People with high self-efficacy exert more efforts for completing a task, they persist longer in those efforts. Researchers have found that self-efficacy beliefs play a powerful role in the overall performance. Self-esteem means how we value ourselves, our perceptions and our beliefs in who we are and what we are capable of. It is believed that people who have high self-esteem set higher goals for themselves and are more willing to fight in the case of failure. These students can also tackle difficult situations and don't give up easily. Under achievers commonly have lower self-esteem. Self-Efficacy: It refers to the extent to which one believes in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. It is considered to be people's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that influences events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs affect how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave.

Such beliefs produce these diverse effects through cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes.

Social cognitive theory: The theory of self-efficacy lies at the heart of Bandura's social cognitive theory, that has emphasized the role of observational learning and social experience in the development of personality. The main idea in social cognitive theory is that in almost every situation the actions that individual has observed in others influences his every actions and reactions. Self-Efficacy is an important aspect of social cognitive theory as it is developed from external experiences and self-perception and plays an important role in determining the outcome of many events. Self-efficacy is a representation of the personal perception of external social factors. People with high self-efficacy--that is, those who believe they can perform well--are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

Social Cognitive Theory of Albert Bandura shows how cognitive, behavioral, personal, and environmental factors interact to determine motivation and behavior (Crothers, Hughes, & Morine, 2008). Human functioning results from the interaction among all three of these factors (Crothers et al., 2008), as has been depicted in Bandura's Triadic Reciprocal Determinism model (Wood & Bandura, 1989). It may seem to us that one factor is the majority, or lead reason, there are numerous factors that playing a role in human behavior. Moreover, the factors that influence are neither of equal strength, nor do they all occur concurrently (Wood & Bandura, 1989). For example, the way the workers themselves are affected (cognitive factors) influences their performances (behavioral factors) by organizational strategies (environmental factors).

People who high self-efficacy assign for them challenging goals and are strongly committed to them. When they experience failure, they heighten and sustain their efforts. They are quick in recovering their sense of efficacy after failures or setbacks. Failure is attributed to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge and skills which can be acquired. Threatening situations are approached with assurance that they can be controlled. Such an outlook leads to personal accomplishments reduces stress and low down vulnerability to depression.

Factors affecting self-efficacy: According to Bandura there are four factors that affect self-efficacy. These factors are:

Past Performance: Our past performances have been found to be the single greatest factor affecting our confidence and self-efficacy. Success enhances self-efficacy, while failure lowers it. If a person succeeds at a particular task in the past, they start believing that they will succeed in the future also on the same task. The way our successes and failures are interpreted affects our self-efficacy. If we believe that the past successes are due to the skills or our ability we may become more confident in future for that particular task.

Modeling, or Vicarious Experience: When we see someone accomplishing a particular task, we start believing that we can also perform the same task. When others are succeeding and when we observe this, our own self-efficacy increases; and when we see people failing, our self-efficacy decreases. This happens mostly when there is perceived similarity between us and the perceived model i.e. when we see ourselves as similar to the model. The more we relate to the model being observed, the more we are impacted. However it is not as influential as direct experience, modeling is particularly useful for people who are particularly unsure of themselves.

Verbal Persuasion: Social persuasion refers to providing direct encouragement or discouragement from another person. If you tell someone "you can do it", it increases the confidence level of the person thereby enhancing his self-efficacy. The effect of verbal persuasion is seen to be more effective when the person is told by someone whom he believes to be trustworthy. It is seen that discouragement is generally more effective at decreasing a person's self-efficacy than encouragement is at increasing it. People who are persuaded verbally that they possess the capabilities for mastering given activities are likely to exert greater effort and sustain it than if they have self-doubts and dwell on personal deficiencies when they face problems.

Physiological Factors: In order to judge their capabilities, people also rely on their somatic and emotional states. Their stress reactions and tension are generally interpreted as signs of vulnerability and poor performance. In such activities that involve strength and stamina, people judge their fatigue, aches and pains as signs of physical debility. People's mood also affects their judgments of their personal efficacy. While positive mood enhances perceived self-efficacy, despondent mood diminishes it. Thus by reducing people's stress reactions and altering their negative emotional proclivities and its interpretations of their physical states, self-efficacy can be modified.

Self-Efficacy Beliefs and academic attainments: In research, self-efficacy has been the focus indiverse areas like business, athletics, medicine and health, media studies, social and political change, moral development, psychiatry, psychopathology, and international affairs. Lot of studies has been done in Psychology where self-efficacy has been the focusin clinical problems such as phobias, depression, social skills, assertiveness, smoking behavior, and moral development. Inmost of the educational research, self-efficacy has been very prominent. It has been reported by the scholars that, regardless of previous achievement or ability, students who have high self-efficacy work harder, persist longer, persevere in the face of adversity, have greater optimism and lower anxiety, and achieve more. More cognitive and metacognitive strategies are used by those students who strongly believe they are capable of performing academic tasks than those who do not. Academic self-efficacy affects cognitive strategy use and self-regulation through the use of metacognitive strategies, and self-efficacy is associated with in-class seatwork and homework, exams and quizzes, and essays and reports.

Intelligence (in the form of IQ) has typically been regarded as the most powerful cognitive predictor of achievement. But when the joint contribution of self-efficacy and intelligence to the prediction of achievement was tested by the researchers, it was found that students' self-efficacy beliefs made a powerful and independent contribution to the prediction of their academic performance. Self-efficacy also determines the life choices that students make and of the courses of action they pursue. Generally, they engage in those activities in which they feel competent and avoid those in which they do not. It is particularly important at the high school and college levels, where young people progressively have more academic options.

At different levels of ability, students having high self-efficacy tend to engage in more effective self-regulatory strategies. Self-efficacy improves students' memory performance by enhancing persistence. In studies done on college students who are pursuing science and engineering courses, high self-efficacy has been demonstrated to influence the academic persistence necessary to maintain high academic achievement.

Self-efficacy, according to the Social Cognitive theory, is one of the most important variables influencing the academic performance and achievement. Collins (1982) demonstrated the importance of self-efficacy beliefs and skill application on academic performance. In the study it was found that people may perform poorly on tasks not necessarily because they lack the ability to succeed, but because they lack belief in their capabilities.

Self Esteem: In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It affects how you think, act or relate to other people. It is the foundation of your existence. It is the idea that you have about yourself, how valuable and important you think you are and how much you respect yourself. It affects our thinking, emotions, desires, values and goals. High self-esteem helps us to take new challenges and handle criticism. We start acting independently and take responsibility for our actions. It helps you to be positive in most of the life situations. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one's own appearance, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors.

It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. It includes beliefs (for example, "I am competent," "I am worthy") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Smith and Mackie (2007) defined it by saying "The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it."

Researchers have conceptualized self-esteem as an influential predictor of certain outcomes, such as academic achievement, happiness, satisfaction in marriage and relationships, and criminal behavior. Self-esteem can be applied specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer and I feel happy about that") or a global extent (for example, "I believe I am a bad person, and feel bad about myself in general"). It is usually regarded as an enduring personality characteristic. Terms similar to self-esteem include: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, and self-integrity.

Theories of Self Esteem

Self-esteem is influenced by internal factors like the way you talk to yourself, the way you think and the things you believe in. External factors influencing self-esteem includes the environment in which you live and work. The things that make you feel special and worthwhile enhances your self-esteem and the things that make you feel bad lowers your self-esteem.Self Esteem helps us at every place and in every context. The confidence and the positive attitude enable us to give our best. It enables us to have the right attitude for succeeding in every walk of life. Some of the well-known theories of self-esteem areas follows:

Self Determination Theory: SDT is a theory of human motivation and personality that is concerned with growth tendencies that are inherent and innate psychological needs. It is concerned with motivation behind choices people make without external influence and interference. It focuses on the degree to which an individual's behavior is self-motivated andself-determined. It was developed by Edward L. Desi and Richard M Rejan. SDT focuses on different types of motivations. According to this theory, people have three innate psychological needs that are considered as universal necessities. The first is need for competence which means the desire to control and master the environment. The second is need for relatedness, which means the desire to interact and feel connected with other people. The third need is the need for autonomy that deals with the urge to be causal agents and to act in harmony with our integrated self.

Terror Management Theory: TMT focuses on basic psychological conflict that results from having a desire to live, but realizing that death is inevitable. Terror is created because of this conflict which is then managed by embracing cultural values. It was proposed by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, & Tom Pyszczynski.. The theory tries to explain why we need self-esteem and what psychological functions it may serve. Self-esteem is used as a coping mechanism by people to handle anxiety and to control terror. Self Esteem is a sense of personal value that is obtained by believing in two things, first, the validity of one's cultural worldview and second, that one is living up to standards that are part of the worldview. Thus TMT proposes that the awareness of death causes terror that is managed by development and maintenance of cultural worldviews. All cultures proclaim that life is meaningful by offering an account of the origin of the universe, prescriptions for appropriate behavior, and assurance of immortality for those who behave in accordance with cultural dictates. According to this theory, when people feel threatened, they attempt to foster a state called symbolic immortality in which they try to connect themselves as a broader social entity and then fulfilling the values of this collective, manifested as striving to boost self-esteem.

Sociometer Theory of Self Esteem:It was proposed by Mark Leary in 1999. According to this, humans have evolved a form of psychological meter, or gauge, which monitors the the degree to which other people value and accept them. This monitor has been named as sociometer. The evaluations of the individuals level of acceptance, by others determine self-esteem. Thus this theory suggests that self-esteem is a part of psychological system that monitors the social environment for cues indicating low or declining relational evaluation and warns the individuals when such cues are detected. People try to increase their relational value and social acceptance by using self-esteem as a measure or gauge of their effectiveness. Relational value means the degree to which a person regards his or her relationship with another, and how it affects day to day life. If a person is having relational value, they are more likely to have higher self-esteem. There are five main groups associated with relational value that have the greatest impact on an individual. These are 1). Macro level, i.e., communities 2). Instrumental coalitions i.e., teams, committees 3) mating relationships 4) kin relationships 5) friendships. Where perceived relational value is high, self-esteem is high, and where perceived relational values are love, self-esteem is lowered.

Maslow theory of Self Esteem :Maslow (1943, 1954) needs hierarchy theory comprises of five tier model of human needs depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Our most basic need is for physical survival and it is the first thing that motivates our behavior. After fulfilling that level, the next level up is what motivates us and so on. The needs are divided into deficiency needs and growth needs. The first four levels are are known as deficiency needs (D needs) and the top level is known as being needs (B-needs). Lower level needs must be satisfied before progressing to meet higher level growth needs. When a deficiency need has been satisfied it will go away.

The first two levels of needs are considered basic needs of food, water, security and safety. The third level of needs is considered psychological and is based on the need for social connection and relationship with others. The fourth level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs is based on emotions and need for self-esteem and self-respect. Accomplishment of first four levels of needs leads to the last stage of needs based on peak experiences and self-actualization.

Rogers Theory:

Carl Rogers(1902-1987), a humanistic psychologist, mentioned that the origin of many people's problems lies in their faulty thinking when they despise themselves and consider themselves worthless and incapable of being loved. Rogers believed in the importance of giving unconditional acceptance to a client and this in turn leads to the improvement in client's self-esteem. According to Rogers, feelings of self-worth are developed in early childhood fromthe kind of interaction the child has with his mother and father. A person who has a high self-worth is confident and positive about himself or herself, is able to face challenges in life, accepts failure and is open with other people. However, person with low self-worth, avoid challenges in life and feel insecure. For higher self-esteem to be developed in the child, he must feel love and affection, and being valued and in the family.

Objective: The study is conducted with an objective of finding the correlation between self esteem and self efficacy among college students.


Design: The present study is a correlational, quantitative comparative exploratory research. Data analysis is done with the help of SPSS.

Sample: This study comprises of 400 participants comprising of 200 male undergraduates, 100 from professional college, 100 from non-professional college, and 200 female undergraduates 100 from professional college, 100 from non-professional college of Lucknow.

Research Tools:

The Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSES), developed by sociologist Dr. Morris Rosenberg, has been used to assess self-esteem of the students. The RSES is designed similar to social-survey questionnaires. It is a ten-item Likert-type scale with items answered on a four-point scale--from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The Rosenberg self-esteem scale is considered a reliable and valid quantitative tool for self-esteem assessment.

To measure self-efficacy, General Self Efficacy Scale by Ralf Schwarzer and Matthias Jerusalem, 1995 has been used. The scale is designed for the general adult population, including adolescents. The scale is usually self-administered, as part of a more comprehensive questionnaire. Preferably, the 10 items are mixed at random into a larger pool of items that have the same response format. Responses are made on a 4-point scale.


The above table i.e. table no 1.0 depicts the correlation values between the Self Esteem, & Self Efficacy scores of the 400 students.

In this we see that the Pearson's correlation coefficient is 0.1 and positive. This means that as the self esteem levels of the students rise, the general self efficacy levels rise too in tandem. If we check the p-value, we find significant result of 0.00, which is evident enough for us to reject the null hypothesis and state that the two variables are correlated. Thus we can conclude that self esteem and self efficacy are strongly positively correlated. It means that students whose self esteem is high, tend to have a higher self efficacy and perform better.

Another study was done in 2017 on 'Association between self-esteem, self efficacy & approaches to studying in occupational therapy students.' It was conducted by Mohsin Alyami, New Zealand, Zeyad Melyani, Saudi Arabia, and others. Results found low, yet positive correlation between academic performance, self efficacy and self esteem of the students. A study done in Pakistan, 2018, by Feroz Correlating showed that there was in fact a significant positive correlation between students' CGPAs and their score on the self-esteem scale. It was concluded from the results that students with higher self-esteem level had higher academic

outcome. Similarly, in one of the studies on 'the relationship of self efficacy and self esteem with career maturity' on the students, Indonesia, positive correlation was found between self esteem, and self efficacy with career maturity.(Abdul Munir et al, Indonesia.)In a study on students in Belgrade, it was found physical self efficacy was significant predictor of self esteem. A study done in 2012 by Ernest Afari and Graeme Ward, UAE, found significant relationships between global self-esteem and academic self-efficacy. Also academic achievement was associated with having high academic. Study by Namok Choi, 2005 found Both academic self-concept and specific self-concept were significant predictors of term grades.


The study highlights the importance of self esteem for college students. It clearly shows that the higher self esteem leads to higher self efficacy. It means that the students who regard themselves to be highly worthy and important also feel competent for any task. This is turn motivates them to work with full commitment and dedication thereby enhancing their overall performance. The findings of this study can be useful for the policy makers and the Educational Institutes to formulate plans to enhance the overall psychological well being of the students. Self confidence or self esteem is the base of everything. If this important psychological aspect is neglected, it can lead to serious repercussions for the individuals. It becomes moral responsibility of the Education department to work on enhancing this important aspect of the students. Only then we can have a progressive society. Training programs and workshops can be organised for the students where they can be taught about the importance of building self confidence. Even the parents can be involved in mentoring their children and provide valuable feedback about their performance. This is definitely going to bring positive changes in the youth.


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Sandhya Bhatt (*) and Anshubhi Bahadur (**)

(*) Amity University, Lucknow, (**) Babu Banarsi Das University, Lucknow, India

Received: January 09, 2018

Revised: February 17, 2018

Accepted: March 29, 2018
Table 1: Correlation table

                              RSE Score     GSE Score

RSE Score    Pearson corr.    1              .189 (**)
GSE Score    Pearson corr.     .189 (**)    1

(**). Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
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Author:Bhatt, Sandhya; Bahadur, Anshubhi
Publication:Indian Journal of Community Psychology
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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