Marie-Hélène Budworth

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

Marie-Hélène Budworth

SIOP conference

April 26th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am on a plane en route to the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  A large contingent from Southern Ontario’s Org Psyc/Management scholarship community is on the same plane including Gary Latham, Julian Barling, David Zweig, Sunjeev Patel, and a wack of graduate students.  As always, it promised to be an interesting conference.  First of all, it is being held in San Diego, a fantastic location.  I have never been and I am looking forward to seeing the sites.   Second, there are some interesting speakers presenting.  I have already planned out my sessions and created an itinerary for the next three days. 

The highlight presentation will be the closing plenary with keynote address from Albert Bandura.  If there ever was a ‘rock star’ in psychology (and there have been many), he is Elvis – the original ‘rock star.’ And not the sad overweight Elvis, the young sharp, top of his game Elvis.  Bandura is the originator of Social Cognitive Theory.  Easily the most widely cited psychological theory.  It is used across disciplines including human development, clinical psych, marketing, organizational psych and our understanding of morality.  At the core of SCT is the premise that the human experience is a function of the interactions between the individual, the environment.  People learn through observation. 

I would not have a research program if it were not for Bandura.  Almost all of my work borrows from his understanding of how a person’s thoughts influence their understanding of the world and their subsequent behaviour.  I have been profoundly impacted the construct of self-efficacy, or task specific confidence.  It might sound like a simple notion – the amount of assuredness that an individual possesses that they could complete a given activity – but Bandura was able to conceptualize it in detail, providing guidance on how it is developed and changed. 

Self-efficacy is distinct from self-esteem.  Self-esteem is a core construct.  It describes whether someone believes they are a worthy individual, or not.  Self-efficacy on the other hand is specific to different tasks.  I could have high self-efficacy for one task (e.g., tennis) and low self-efficacy for another (e.g., painting).  These fluctuations are unlikely to have an impact on my self-esteem. 

From my perspective, one of the most significant outcomes is that when faced with obstacles or failure someone with low self-efficacy will give up while an individual with high self-efficacy will redouble their efforts and persists.  Arming people with high self-efficacy for tasks that are important puts them in the best possible position for success.  I have been preoccupied with understanding how we can influence self-efficacy and the conditions under which this type of confidence is allowed to blossom.  As I noted, most of my research has been anchored here so I am in a debt of gratitude to Bandura… and I am quite in awe.  Very much looking forward to the talk.


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