Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth


November 26th, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I have been thinking a lot about resiliency lately.  What are the conditions that allow some people persist while others give up?  This characteristic is essential for success in any challenging endeavour.  It is related to a theme in my research.  I have been obsessed with an individual difference called self-efficacy, or task specific confidence.  It is not my term.  It belongs to Albert Bandura and his social cognitive theory.  In my mind, it is pure brilliance and explains so much about human behaviour.

Self-efficacy describes an individual’s perceptions of their own ability.  In popular language we use the term self-esteem to describe how we feel about ourselves at our core.  Self-efficacy is distinct from self-esteem.  Self-efficacy describes perceptions about specific tasks while self-esteem is a global or general perception about oneself.  For example, one can have high self-efficacy for snowboarding and low self-efficacy for skating – all the while they may have high general self-esteem.  They are not necessarily related.  

Self-efficacy is related to persistence.  If one has high self-efficacy for a task and they are faced with a challenge, they are likely to redouble their efforts and persist.  Self-efficacy is essential for resiliency.  Fred Luthans, in a new area called positive psychology, has coined the term psychological capital (PsyCap).  PsyCap is a combination of self-efficacy, hope, and optimism.  It has been connected to job satisfaction, effective organizational change, and commitment.

So we have a lot of terms to describe psychological experiences that enable people to persist in the face of challenge.  I am interested in two things: (1) how does self-efficacy (or PsyCap, or resiliency) predict who will become successful? and (2) how can we arm people with these characteristics so that they can control their own potential for success?  

Recently I was asked the question: “If you could be certain that you could give your child one thing, and you would know they could take it with them through life, what would it be?”  I quickly and easily came to the answer, optimism.  But I think I meant some combination of resiliency, self-efficacy (for life), and Psychological Capital.  The research says it clearly, and my own experience supports it, if you can assist people in feeling confident in themselves and connected to others they are armed to face insurmountable barriers.  Individuals with resiliency break down systemic barriers and succeed where others ‘like them’ may have failed.  I am talking about the Barack Obamas, Stephen Hawkings, and even Hillary Swanks of the world.  Some people succeed through focus and hard work.  That is amazing.  Others succeed through focus, hard work, and fight… and that is just outstanding.


No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.