Essay On Self Confidence
500 Words Essay On Self Confidence
Self-confidence refers to the state of mind where a person pushes their boundaries and encourages belief within oneself. It is something which comes from self-love. In order to have confidence in yourself, one must love oneself to get freedom from constant doubt. This essay on self confidence will help you learn more about it in detail.
The Key to Success
It won’t be far-fetched to say that self-confidence is the key to success. If not, it is definitely the first step towards success. When a person has self-confidence, they are halfway through their battle.
People in school and workplaces achieve success by taking more initiatives and being more forward and active in life. Moreover, they tend to make better decisions because of having confidence in oneself.
Thus, it makes them stand out of the crowd. When you stand apart, people will definitely notice you. Thus, it increases your chances of attaining success in life. Alternatively, if there is a person who does not trust or believe in himself, it will be tough.
They will find it hard to achieve success because they will be exposed to failure as well as criticism. Thus, without self-confidence, they may not get back on their feet as fast as someone who possesses self-confidence.
In addition to gaining success, one also enjoys a variety of perks as well. For instance, you can find a job more easily. Similarly, you may find the magnitude of a difficult job lesser than it is.
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Importance of Self Confidence
Self-confidence allows us to face our failure and own up to it in a positive light. Moreover, it helps us to raise many times. This helps instil a quality in use which ensures we do not give up till we succeed.
Similarly, self-confidence instils optimism in us. People who have self-confidence are not lucky, they are smart. They do not rely on others to achieve success , they rely on their own abilities to do that.
While self-confidence is important, it is also important to not become overconfident. As we know, anything in excess can be bad for us. Similarly, overconfidence is also no exception.
When you become overconfident, you do not acknowledge the criticism. When you don’t do that, you do not work on yourself. Thus, it stops your growth. Overlooking all this will prove to be harmful.
So it is essential to have moderation which can let you attain just the right amount of self-confidence and self-love which will assure you success and happiness in life.
Conclusion of the Essay on Self Confidence
All in all, a person will gain self-confidence from their own personal experience and decision. No one speech or conversation can bring an overnight change. It is a gradual but constant process we must all participate in. It will take time but once you achieve it, nothing can stop you from conquering every height in life.
FAQ on Essay on Self Confidence
Question 1: What is the importance of self-confidence?
Answer 1: Self-confidence allows a person to free themselves from self-doubt and negative thoughts about oneself. When you are more fearless, you will have less anxiety . This is what self-confidence can offer you. It will also help you take smart risks and get rid of social anxiety.
Question 2: How do you develop self-confidence paragraph?
Answer 2: To develop self-confidence, one must first look at what they have achieved so far. Then, never forget the things you are good at. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so focus on your strengths. Set up some goals and get a hobby as well. Give yourself the pep talk to hype up your confidence.
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Essays About Confidence: Top 5 Examples and 7 Prompts
Confidence is an important quality everyone should have; if you are writing essays about confidence, have a look at our featured examples and writing prompts.
What is confidence? This quality shows a belief that we are enough; we are happy with who we are and proud of every part of ourselves. When we are confident, we do not doubt ourselves or others, and to an extent, we are quite brave and trusting.
We can be confident in ourselves or others; however, it is important to remember that too much confidence is detrimental. When we are too confident in others, we can fail to see their shortcomings. This applies to ourselves as well; in this case, we are also much more likely to develop negative traits such as arrogance.
5 Top Essay Examples
1. the dark side of having confidence by tomas chamorro-premuzic, 2. self confidence essay by stanley graves, 3. what real confidence looks like by jessica wildfire.
- 4. Where Confidence Comes From by John Gorman
- 5. Personal reflections on self-confidence by Jeremy Jordan
1. What Does it Mean to Be Confident?
2. what makes you feel confident, 3. how do you lose confidence, 4. who embodies confidence for you, 5. why is confidence important, 6. confidence vs. arrogance, 7. a time you showed confidence.
“Although Asian cultures are much more prone to foment self-criticism, humility, and self-knowledge (over self-confidence, arrogance, and narcissism), the West may be globalizing narcissism, probably not in a deliberate attempt to reduce the work ethic and humility of the East, though it may well have that effect. One of the most toxic and problematic cocktails combines high aspirations with a low work ethic—the very definition of narcissistic entitlement. The only fix is to get a reality check and risk becoming depressed, unless you distort reality forever.”
Chamorro-Premuzic discusses a phenomenon by which people have so much confidence that it transforms into narcissism and arrogance. He enumerates some of the negative effects of too much confidence, including a lack of self-awareness and humility, while commenting on society’s almost toxic obsession with confidence and self-esteem. In this essay, he stresses that not everyone needs to be super confident and that humility is a useful attribute to have as well.
Looking for more? Check out these essays about empathy and essays about gratitude .
“Self-confidence is something that cannot be taught. It is up to someone to decide how much belief that they possess inside of themselves. I am at the point where I realize that I must first believe in myself before others will believe in me. Nobody teaches us to be happy or sad. They are natural feelings that come along as we develop mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically.”
In his essay, Graves explains the aspects of self-confidence. Fake self-confidence is when people project themselves as proud and confident when in reality, this is a front to make them seem more impressive than they are. Temporary self-confidence is when an achievement of yours helps you feel confident, even if this feeling fades after a while. The author discusses that true self-confidence is when one truly believes in themselves and their capabilities.
“Nobody forges confidence that we can just slip on like a bat suit. It would be great if it were that easy. Instead, we demonstrate confidence through actions. We perform acts of confidence, even when we’re feeling nervous. We do it every time we make a plan, take a chance, seek out solid advice, confront our faults, and handle a tough situation because others depend on us.”
Wildfire explains the difference between fake and real confidence and some ways to build the latter. She gives examples of things confident people do, such as exploring new opportunities, taking feedback, whether good or bad and admitting when they are wrong or uncertain. Rather than thinking of confidence as something possessed, Wildfire encourages readers to think of it as exercised through our actions.
4. Where Confidence Comes From by John Gorman
“It isn’t entirely translatable to every area of my life, but more of it exists now than there did before I’d started falling. Confidence is, in fact, a product of repetition … but not a product of success — it’s a product of failure. It’s knowing what the fall feels like and being familiar enough with it that you can be comfortable with the risk.”
Gorman discusses his idea of confidence, both what it is not and what it should be. It is not inherent, nor comes from our successes; instead, it is a product of a healthy mindset and learning from one’s mistakes, using those mistakes to improve oneself. The key to confidence, Gorman says, is to take our failures as opportunities to improve ourselves rather than defeat. You might also be interested in our list of essays about effective leadership and essays about attitude .
5. Personal reflections on self-confidence by Jeremy Jordan
“A great deal of learning takes place while you’re struggling; when you do something new, your brain is taking in a lot of information that may not be immediately processed. The way I see it is that I should load up my brain with as much information as possible so there’s more data to learn from. Rather than not seeing results and giving up, I place trust in the learning process and know that my efforts will be rewarded.”
Jordan gives readers tips on improving one’s confidence. He says to surround yourself with supportive people, have good communication skills, and sometimes take risks, among other tips. Most importantly, however, he explains the importance of understanding failure, pain, and struggle, embracing them, learning from our setbacks, and using them to improve.
7 Writing Prompts on Essays About Confidence
People have many ideas of what confidence is or should be. Define confidence in your own words, describe what it means, and discuss what you think a healthy expression of confidence is. Draw inspiration from personal experience and give anecdotes describing certain people in your life to support your position.
What inspires confidence in you? It may be someone in your life, a personal achievement, or other factors. Reflect on what makes you feel confident and describe it in your essay. Explain how it allows you to be more confident and give tips to people looking to find their confidence.
Confidence can be lost just as quickly, if not faster than it is built up. Especially in the 21st century, various factors cause people to lose confidence, particularly among the youth. Research some of these and discuss each one in detail. Explain how each can make someone feel less confident and how one can regain this confidence. Check out these articles about beauty .
We all have role models we look up to. Regarding confidence, reflect on who you look to when you need a boost of confidence. It may be a loved one, a public figure, or even a fictional character; no answer is bad as long as it is adequately explained.
Confidence is said to be essential for success. In your essay, explain why confidence is so important in life. Support your explanation with ample evidence from your opinions and other sources; describe some situations in which confidence would be beneficial such as in interviews, public speaking, and social situations.
Arrogance is often considered the “negative form” or “negative effect” of confidence; there is a strong correlation between the two. Look into their similarities and connection, then differentiate the two. Also, explain how you can express confidence without being confident to the extent that it comes off as arrogant.
For an exciting essay, look back on a time you are proud of wherein you showed confidence. Retell the story in detail, such as the events leading up to it and what made you “behave confidently.” Explain why you felt the way you did, how exactly confidence was manifested, and the effects of your confidence or confident actions.
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our essays about bullying topic guide ! If you still need help, our guide to grammar and punctuation explains more.
Martin is an avid writer specializing in editing and proofreading. He also enjoys literary analysis and writing about food and travel.
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Self Efficacy and Why Believing in Yourself Matters
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.
- How to Improve
Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal. It encompasses a person's confidence in themselves to control their behavior, exert an influence over their environment, and stay motivated in the pursuit of their goal. People can have self-efficacy in different situations and domains, such as school, work, relationships, and other important areas.
When facing a challenge, do you feel like you can rise up and accomplish your goal, or do you give up in defeat? Are you like the little train engine from the classic children's book ("I think I can, I think I can!"), or do you doubt your own abilities to rise up and overcome the difficulties that life throws your way? If you tend to keep going in the face of obstacles, you probably have a high degree of self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is important because it plays a role in how you feel about yourself and whether or not you successfully achieve your goals in life. The concept of self-efficacy is central to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory , which emphasizes the role of observational learning , social experience, and reciprocal determinism in personality development.
According to Bandura, self-efficacy is part of the self-system comprised of a person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills. This system plays a major role in how we perceive and respond to different situations. Self-efficacy is an essential part of this self-system.
According to Albert Bandura , self-efficacy is "the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations." Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. Such beliefs play a role in determining how people think, behave, and feel.
Since Bandura published his seminal 1977 paper, "Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change," the subject has become one of the most studied topics in psychology. Why has self-efficacy become such an important topic among psychologists and educators?
As Bandura and other researchers have demonstrated, self-efficacy can impact everything from psychological states to behavior to motivation. Self-efficacy determines what goals we pursue, how we accomplish those goals, and how we reflect upon our own performance.
Our belief in our own ability to succeed plays a role in how we think, how we act, and how we feel about our place in the world.
The Role of Self-Efficacy
Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change , and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.
Having high self-efficacy is a good thing. People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:
- Develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
- Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
- Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
- View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
Poor self-efficacy, on the other hand, can have a number of detrimental effects. People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:
- Avoid challenging tasks
- Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
- Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
- Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities
Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Esteem vs. Self-Confidence
Self-efficacy is sometimes confused with self-esteem , but there are important distinctions between the two. What is the difference between self-efficacy and self-esteem? Self-efficacy refers to how you feel about your ability to succeed in different situations, while self-esteem refers to your respect for your own value and worth.
Is self-efficacy the same as self-confidence? While the two terms are related, there are some important distinctions. Self-confidence is more general and refers to a person's overall belief in themselves in all contexts. Self-efficacy, on the other hand, is more specific and context-dependent. A person can have high self-efficacy in one area (such as in academics) and low self-efficacy in other areas (such as in sports).
Research suggests that self-efficacy predicts self-esteem. In other words, people with high self-efficacy also tend to have high self-esteem and vice versa.
How Does Self-Efficacy Develop?
We begin to form our sense of self-efficacy in early childhood by dealing with various experiences, tasks, and situations. However, the growth of self-efficacy does not end during youth but continues to evolve throughout life as people acquire new skills, experiences, and understanding.
What are the four types of self-efficacy?
Bandura identified four major sources of self-efficacy. The four ways that self-efficacy is achieved are mastery experiences, social modeling, social persuasion, and psychological responses.
"The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences," Bandura explained. Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.
Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, "Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers' beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed."
Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.
Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states , physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.
However, Bandura also notes "it is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important but rather how they are perceived and interpreted."
By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.
Examples of High Self-Efficacy
So what exactly does high self-efficacy look like? You can probably think of some examples from your own life including areas where you feel a great deal of efficacy. People may possess a general sense of self-efficacy or in a specific domain where they believe they can do well such as school, work, friendships, parenting, sports, hobbies, and other areas.
Some examples of strong self-efficacy include:
- A person struggling to manage a chronic illness feels confident that they can get back on track and improve their health by working hard and following their doctor's recommendations.
- A student who feels confident that they will be able to learn the information and do well on a test.
- Someone who has just accepted a job position in a role they have never performed before but feels that they have the ability to learn and perform the job well.
Self-efficacy can play an important role in health psychology and how people manage their health, nutrition, and illness. For example, having a strong sense of self-efficacy can help people who are trying to quit smoking stick to their goals.
Maintaining a weight loss plan, managing chronic pain, giving up alcohol, sticking to an exercise schedule, and following an eating plan can all be influenced by a person's levels of self-efficacy.
Research has also shown that when teachers have high self-efficacy, it has a positive impact on academic outcomes, including student motivation and achievement.
Bandura suggests that self-efficacy can benefit a person's sense of well-being in a number of ways. For instance, they remain optimistic and confident in their abilities, even when things become difficult.
Because individuals with high self-efficacy look at difficulties as challenges rather than threats, they tend to be more intrinsically interested in the tasks they pursue. Difficulty and failure don't mean defeat; instead, these individuals redouble their efforts and look for new ways to overcome.
Issues With Low Self-Efficacy
People who are low in self-efficacy tend to see difficult tasks as threats they should avoid. Because of this, they also tend to avoid setting goals and have low levels of commitment to the ones they do make.
When setbacks happen, they tend to give up quickly. Because they don't have much confidence in their ability to achieve, they are more likely to experience feelings of failure and depression. Stressful situations can also be very hard to deal with and those with low self-efficacy are less resilient and less likely to bounce back.
Learned helplessness is the opposite of self-efficacy. It can occur when people feel they have no power to control what happens in a situation. Instead of looking for opportunities to change the outcome, they give up and behave passively.
Evaluating Self-Efficacy Strength
For a quick, informal assessment of your own self-efficacy levels, consider the following questions:
- Do you feel like you can handle problems if you are willing to work hard?
- Are you confident in your ability to achieve your goals?
- Do you feel like you can manage unexpected events that come up?
- Are you able to bounce back fairly quickly after stressful events?
- Do you feel like you can come up with solutions when you are facing a problem?
- Do you keep trying even when things seem difficult?
- Are you good at staying calm even in the face of chaos?
- Do you perform well even under pressure?
- Do you tend to focus on your progress rather than getting overwhelmed by all you still have to do?
- Do you believe that hard work will eventually pay off?
If you can answer yes to many or most of these questions, then chances are good that you have a fairly strong sense of self-efficacy. If you feel like your self-efficacy could use a boost, consider some of the following strategies for improving your sense of efficacy.
Fortunately, self-efficacy is a psychological skill that you can foster and strengthen. Start by looking for ways to incorporate Bandura's sources of self-efficacy into your own life. Some ways that self-efficacy can be achieved include acknowledging your success, observing your mentors, getting positive feedback, and practicing positive self-talk.
Celebrate Your Success
Mastery experiences play a critical role in the establishment of self-efficacy. Bandura actually identified this as the single most effective way to create a strong sense of self-belief.
When you succeed at something, you are able to build a powerful belief in your ability. Failure, on the other hand, can undermine these feelings, particularly if you are still in the early phases of building a sense of personal efficacy.
The ideal sorts of successes, however, are not necessarily those that come easily. If you experience a lot of easy success, you may find yourself giving up more readily when you finally do encounter failure. So work on setting goals that are achievable, but not necessarily easy. They will take work and perseverance, but you will emerge with a stronger belief in your own abilities once you achieve them.
Bandura also identified vicarious experiences obtained through peer modeling as another important means of establishing and strengthening self-efficacy. Seeing others putting in effort and succeeding, as a result, can increase your belief in your own ability to succeed.
One factor that plays a key role in the effectiveness of this approach is how similar the model is to yourself. The more alike you feel you are, the more likely it is that your observations will increase your sense of self-efficacy.
Seek Positive Affirmations
Hearing positive feedback from others can also help improve your sense of self-efficacy. By that same token, try to avoid asking for feedback from people who you know are more likely to have a negative or critical view of your performance.
For example, your doctor telling you that you are doing a good job sticking to your diet plan can be encouraging. Feedback from friends, mentors, health practitioners, and people who you respect can help you feel greater confidence in your own abilities.
Positive social feedback can be helpful for strengthening your already existing sense of efficacy, but negative comments can often have a powerful undermining effect. Bandura suggested that social feedback alone is not enough to build your self-belief, but it can be a useful tool when you need a little extra encouragement.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Emotions
If you find yourself getting stressed out or nervous before a challenging event, you might feel less sure of your ability to cope with the task at hand.
Another way to boost your self-efficacy is to look for ways to manage your thoughts and emotions about what you are trying to accomplish.
Do you feel anxious? Looking for ways to ease your stress levels can help you feel more confident in your capabilities. Do you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts? Look for ways to replace negativity with positive self-talk that promotes self-belief.
Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast
Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares strategies that can help you learn to truly believe in yourself, featuring IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima.
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There are a number of different scales that are used to evaluate levels of self-efficacy including the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) and the Self-Efficacy Questionnaire.
Developing a strong sense of self-efficacy can play an important role in almost every aspect of your life. Life is full of challenges and high levels of self-efficacy can help you better deal with these difficulties more effectively. Your belief in your abilities can predict how motivated you feel, how you feel about yourself, and the amount of effort you put into achieving your goals.
Bandura A. Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies . Cambridge University Press.
Bandura A. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change . Psychol Rev . 1977;84(2):191-215. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.84.2.191
Hajloo N. Relationships between self-efficacy, self-esteem and procrastination in undergraduate psychology students . Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci . 2014;8(3):42-9. PMID: 25780374; PMCID: PMC4359724.
Barni D, Danioni F, Benevene P. Teachers' self-efficacy: The role of personal values and motivations for teaching . Front Psychol . 2019;10:1645. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01645
Maier SF, Seligman ME. Learned helplessness at fifty: Insights from neuroscience . Psychol Rev . 2016;123(4):349-367. doi:10.1037/rev0000033
Romppel M, Herrmann-Lingen C, Wachter R, et al. A short form of the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE-6): Development, psychometric properties and validity in an intercultural non-clinical sample and a sample of patients at risk for heart failure . Psychosoc Med . 2013;10:Doc01. doi:10.3205/psm000091
Tod D, Hardy J, Oliver E. Effects of self-talk: A systematic review . J Sport Exerc Psychol . 2011;33(5):666-87.
Bandura A. Exercise of personal agency through the self-efficacy mechanisms. In: Schwarzer R, ed. Self-efficacy: Thought Control of Action. Hemisphere: Taylor & Francis.
Bandura A. Self-efficacy. In: Ramachaudran VS, ed. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior , 4. Academic Press.
Turk DC. Psychological aspects of chronic pain. In: Benzon HT, Rathmell JP, Wu CL, et al., eds. Practical Management of Pain (Fifth Edition) . Elsevier.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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Self-Confidence Essay: Writing Guide, Topics, & Sample
Problems with self-confidence are relatively common, especially among teenagers and young adults. We all have experienced a lack of self-confidence in certain situations.
What can be the main factors causing low self-esteem?
- Fear and anxiety. It comes from self-doubt and the comparison of yourself to others.
- Lack of motivation. It happens because of criticism or other factors.
- Lack of support. Approval or help from peers or mentors is essential.
- No sense of authenticity. Feeling confident in who you are, gives a great source of power.
It is essential to address these issues as soon as possible. They can lead to problems with communication, personal growth, and difficulties in studies or career.
In this article, our expert team explains how to write a paper about self-confidence. You’ll find writing tips, topics, and an essay example at the end.
- ✍️ Writing a Self-Confidence Essay
- 🧾 82 Topics
- ✒️ Essay Sample
✍️ Essay on Self-Confidence – How to Write
Let’s start with the basics. Follow the steps below to prepare your paper smartly.
1. Choose a Topic
When you write about self-confidence, try to make your topic more specific .
Example of a bad topic: Why is self-confidence important to every person?
Example of a good topic: The connection between self-confidence and studying performance among first-year students.
The first topic is rather general and probably very common. The second one is narrower and implies that you have researched and prepared the paper.
2. Make an Outline
Planning your essay will save you some time and help you focus on the essential aspects.
Here is how to build an outline:
Depending on the topic, you might need to conduct research. Don’t choose sources like Wikipedia or forums in your paper; read them only to overview the issue.
Here is why research is always beneficial:
- Information inspires, even if you don’t plan to use particular materials.
- Sources will add your writing some quality and competence.
- It will help you define if your topic is overused or too narrow.
Use these tips to write an essay easily:
- Start with body paragraphs and finish with a conclusion or introduction.
- Create several drafts or versions of your essay and choose the best one.
- Proofread and check for plagiarism.
- If you write a narrative essay based on personal experience, don’t forget about the academic requirements.
🧾 82 Self-Confidence Essay Topics
Here is our selection of the best self-confidence essay topics.
- The correlation between self-confidence and career expectations. Use research to show the connection between ambitions and confidence.
- How does stereotyping affect self-confidence in communication? Explain your opinion about popular stereotypes and people’s ability to confront them using their confidence.
- The reasons why self-esteem is as important as intelligence in the educational sphere. Describe your experience or use statistics to prove this statement.
- The factors that influence the formation of children’s self-esteem. Describe the aspects connected with family, peers, education, hobbies, etc.
- What professions demand a high level of self-confidence? Choose from one to three careers and explain the role of confidence in them.
- What are the negative sides of being too self-confident? Use something you have experienced, a real story, or a book or film plot to develop this topic.
- Why are many people confident only in some spheres of their life ? Describe this phenomenon and connect it with your life or research data.
- Discuss the impact of self-confidence in relationships with family members. Write about the competition that often takes place in families and how it is connected with confidence.
- How not to let criticism harm self-confidence. Explain how to embrace problems and use criticism for your personal growth.
- What is the difference between having high self-esteem and being selfish ? Compare these concepts and provide your readers with similarities and differences.
- How do bullying and discrimination affect teenagers’ self-esteem?
- Describe the situation when you wish you had more self-confidence.
- Adolescents’ depression: Issue analysis .
- The factors that show that a child has problems with self-confidence.
- Teachers’ sense of self-efficacy .
- Is it easier for self-confident people to succeed in life?
- Low self-esteem women and their relationships with men.
- How to prepare for a public speech if you are not confident enough?
- Depression development and its causes .
- How does self-esteem affect romantic relationships?
- Digital self-harm, causes, and interventions: Annotated bibliography .
- Define the importance of self-confidence in stressful situations.
- Motivational strategies to enhance the student’s self-efficacy .
- What are the best strategies to boost self-confidence as a student?
- How does a divorce affect children’s self-esteem?
- Digital self-harm overview: Causes and interventions .
- How does self-confidence influence people who work in creative industries?
- Social psychology: Group influence on the self .
- Define the word “confidence” using your life experiences.
- Depression in adolescents .
- Is it possible to lose your confidence completely?
- The developing discipline and self-concept in early to mid-adolescence .
- The importance of counseling in educational institutions.
- Competence and self-esteem in human relations .
- How to define if you have issues with self-confidence?
- Is self-confidence a character feature you have naturally or need to develop?
- Self-harm and suicide among adolescents .
- How to define if the person is confident based on their body language?
- How does child neglect affect a child’s self-esteem in adulthood ?
- Is it easier for confident people to make friends?
- Suicide prevention: Bullying and depression .
- Do you consider yourself a confident person?
- What are the negative outcomes of being too self-confident?
- Define what is meant by “child neglect becomes self-esteem.”
- How does capitalism regard individualism and self-confident people?
- What are the things self-confidence depends on?
- Childhood bullying: Depression and suicidal attempts .
- Do you need a specialist to eliminate problems with self-confidence?
- Native American adolescent females and self-esteem concerns .
- How does self-confidence influence life choices?
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✒️ Self-Confidence and Healthy Life Essay
In the end, check our examples of a self-confidence essay.
When we start thinking about leading a healthy lifestyle, the first things that come to our minds might be nutritious food, regular sports, and getting enough sleep. It can be not so obvious, but having enough self-confidence is a reasonable basis for a healthy lifestyle. Self-confidence influences mental and physical health because it defines how you treat yourself and your relationships and enables you to enjoy your accomplishments fully. If you are self-confident, you value and treat yourself the way you deserve it. Wasting your time and effort on the things you do not need becomes redundant. It also means that you are optimistic and know what you want most of the time. Such an approach helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Self-confident people surround themselves with positive relationships that are beneficial for their health. They are not afraid to say “no” to those they do not like. Self-confidence also helps you establish relationships based on mutual respect and understanding each other’s self-worth. This is how you can protect yourself from toxic people and useless interactions. Knowing that you succeeded because you deserve it brings more positive emotions. When you lack self-confidence, you might undervalue your effort and think that you simply got lucky. Confident people know that they invested their resources and received a particular reward. Establishing this logical connection not only maintains but also boosts confidence. Self-confidence can be a great thing to start with if you want to improve your health. It also makes you surround yourself with the right people and experiences. Knowing your self-worth, having a positive social circle, and appreciating your achievements are always beneficial to mental health.
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Learning, Remembering, Believing: Enhancing Human Performance (1994)
Chapter: self-confidence and performance, 8 self-confidence and performance.
Self-confidence is considered one of the most influential motivators and regulators of behavior in people's everyday lives (Bandura, 1986). A growing body of evidence suggests that one's perception of ability or self-confidence is the central mediating construct of achievement strivings (e.g., Bandura, 1977; Ericsson et al., 1993; Harter, 1978; Kuhl, 1992; Nicholls, 1984). Ericsson and his colleagues have taken the position that the major influence in the acquisition of expert performance is the confidence and motivation to persist in deliberate practice for a minimum of 10 years.
Self-confidence is not a motivational perspective by itself. It is a judgment about capabilities for accomplishment of some goal, and, therefore, must be considered within a broader conceptualization of motivation that provides the goal context. Kanfer (1990a) provides an example of one cognitively based framework of motivation for such a discussion. She suggests that motivation is composed of two components: goal choice and self-regulation. Self-regulation, in turn, consists of three related sets of activities: self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and self-reactions. Self-monitoring provides information about current performance, which is then evaluated by comparing that performance with one's goal. The comparison between performance and goal results in two distinct types of self-reactions: self-satisfaction or -dissatisfaction and self-confidence expectations. Satisfaction or dissatisfaction is an affective response to past actions; self-confidence expectations are judgments about one's future capabilities to attain one's goal. This framework allows a discussion of self-confidence as it relates to a number of motivational processes, including setting goals and causal attributions.
One theoretical perspective of self-confidence that fits well in Kanfer's (1990b) framework of motivation and has particular relevance to enhancing self-confidence in a variety of domains of psychosocial functioning is self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986). Self-efficacy theory is also useful in guiding the development of motivational programs because self-beliefs of confidence operate in most of the approaches to cognitive theories of motivation, particularly goal-setting theory and attribution theory (Bandura, 1990).
This chapter provides an overview of the self-efficacy concept of self-confidence and its relationship to other cognitively based motivational processes that influence learning and performance; it does not attempt to integrate the different theories of motivation that incorporate self-confidence constructs. (For summaries and comparisons of cognitive theories of motivation, see Frese and Sabini, 1985; Halisch and Kuhl, 1987; Kanfer, 1990b; Pervin, 1989.) We first define self-confidence and related concepts. Next, an overview of self-efficacy theory is given, along with a review of the relevant research. The third section covers applications of techniques for enhancing self-confidence. Lastly, we note the research questions that follow from what is currently known.
''SELF-CONFIDENCE" AND RELATED CONCEPTS
Terms such as "self-confidence," "self-efficacy," "perceived ability," and "perceived competence" have been used to describe a person's perceived capability to accomplish a certain level of performance. Bandura (1977) uses the term "self-efficacy" to describe the belief one has in being able to execute a specific task successfully (e.g., solving a math problem) in order to obtain a certain outcome (e.g., self-satisfaction or teacher recognition) and, thus, can be considered as situationally specific self-confidence. 1 Self-efficacy is not concerned with an individual's skills, but, rather, with the judgments of what an individual can accomplish with those skills (Bandura, 1986). Bandura (1986, 1990) distinguishes between "self-efficacy" and "self-confidence": self-confidence refers to firmness or strength of belief but does not specify its direction; self-efficacy implies that a goal has been set. We do not adopt Bandura's distinction, but use the term "self-confidence" because it is more familiar to most individuals. "Self-confidence," as the term is used here, is the belief that one can successfully execute a specific activity, rather than a global trait that accounts for overall performance optimism. For example, one may have a lot of self-confidence in one's ability at golf but very little self-confidence in one's tennis skills.
"Perceived competence" and "perceived ability" are terms that have been used in the research literature on achievement and mastery motivation. They indicate the perception that one has the ability to master a task resulting from cumulative interactions with the environment (Harter, 1981; Nicholls,
1984). In sports and physical movement, Griffin and Keogh (1982) developed the concept of "movement confidence" to describe a person's feeling of adequacy in a movement situation; Vealey (1986) used the term "sport confidence" to define the belief or degree of certainty individuals possess about their ability to be successful in sport. Some organizational psychologists use the term "state expectancy'' in essentially the same manner as Bandura's (1977) concept of self-efficacy (Eden, 1990).
Some terms related to self-confidence are occasionally confused with the construct. Some authors (e.g., Kirsch, 1985) have tried to implement Bandura's (1977) concept of self-confidence (self-efficacy) as an expectancy construct. Bandura distinguishes judgments of personal efficacy from the expectancy construct in expectancy-by-value theories (e.g., Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975; Triandis, 1977): self-confidence is a judgment of one's ability to perform at a certain level; expectancies pertain to the outcomes one expects from a given level of effort. In essence, confidence expectations are concerned with beliefs about one's competence and outcome expectations are concerned with beliefs about one's environment. For example, a person may believe that running a marathon in less than 2 hours will lead to social recognition, money, and self-satisfaction (outcome belief), but may question whether she can actually run that fast (confidence belief). Similarly, a woman may believe that Karate self-defense techniques will deter assault (outcome belief), but may doubt her capability to be effectively aggressive against a powerful assailant (confidence belief).
Bandura (1986) asserts that, in a responsive environment that rewards performance achievements, the outcomes people expect depend heavily on their self-confidence that they can perform the skill. However, in an environment in which outcomes are fixed at a minimum level of performance or in which a social condition restricts people's ability to perform successfully or control their circumstances, outcome and confidence expectations would not be causally linked. For example, a concentration camp inmate could have confidence that he or she is efficacious enough to maximize his or her survival probability without violating personal ethics while simultaneously believing that this survival probability is not very high at all. Such individuals may give up trying, not because they doubt their own capabilities, but because they expect their efforts to be futile. This type of outcome-based futility is hypothesized to lead to pessimism or learned helplessness (Bandura, 1986).
"Self-concept" represents a composite view of oneself that is developed through evaluative experiences and social interactions. As Bandura (1986) has noted, however, a person's self-conceptions become more varied across activities with increasing experience. Thus, global measures of self-concept will not predict the intra-individual variability in a performance situation as well as self-confidence perceptions that vary across activities and
circumstances. Rather, global measures of self-concept are helpful to understanding one's total outlook toward life. However, it should be noted that people's self-concepts have also been shown to be malleable in certain situations (Markus and Kunda, 1986). (For a thorough discussion of self-concept, see Hattie, 1992.)
"Self-esteem" is another global construct related to self-confidence and self-concept and pertains to one's personal perception of worthiness. Although self-confidence and self-esteem may be related, individuals can have one without necessarily having the other. Certain individuals may not have high self-confidence for a given activity, but still "like themselves"; by contrast, there are others who may regard themselves as highly competent at a given activity but do not have corresponding feelings of self-esteem. (For a thorough discussion of the concept of self-esteem with respect to work behavior, see Brockner, 1988.)
Other related concepts include locus of control, optimism or pessimism (learned helplessness), healthy illusions, and level of aspiration. Rotter's (1966) notion of locus of control is concerned with a person's generalized expectancies about his or her ability to control reinforcements in life: individuals who tend to perceive events as internally controlled behave more self-determinedly; those who tend to perceive events as beyond their control behave more fatalistically. Although an internal locus of control orientation may create a high sense of confidence, the two constructs must be distinguished. Bandura (1986) points out that locus of control is based on outcome expectancies rather than confidence expectancies. For instance, people who believe that their physical health is personally determined but find it is failing despite their efforts to improve it would experience low self-confidence. Studies have shown that task-specific self-confidence expectancies are better predictors of successful behavior in specific situations than are general measures of perceived control (Kaplan et al., 1984; Manning and Wright, 1983).
Optimism and pessimism have been defined by some authors in terms of generalized expectancies for internal or external locus of control (Scheier and Carver, 1992). Scheier and Carver (1992:203) define "dispositional optimism" as the "tendency to believe that one will generally experience good vs. bad outcomes in life." Optimism and pessimism have also been conceptualized within an attributional or explanatory style framework (Abramson et al., 1978; Peterson and Bossio, 1991). In an attributional view, individuals base their expectations for controlling future events on their causal explanations for past events. Optimism is the tendency to attribute negative events to causes that are unstable, specific, and external; pessimism or learned helplessness is the tendency to attribute negative events to causes that are stable, global, and internal. Optimism and pessimism or learned helplessness are considered to be much more global concepts than task-specific
self-confidence and, thus, are more resistant to short-term interventions to change them. In addition, optimism and pessimism emphasize perceptions of controllability of the environment rather than the sense of personal agency to control the environment.
A concept similar to optimism has been described as healthy illusions (Taylor and Brown, 1988) or positive denial (Lazarus, 1979), which involves a slight distortion of reality in the positive direction. Such illusions can help sustain one's hopes of success, keep morale high, and lower anxiety (Hackett and Cassem, 1974). As Peterson and Bossio (1991) explain in relation to severe illnesses, the immediate denial of the severity of an illness allows individuals to face crises slowly, which helps their motivation to recover. However, if denial or illusion is too far removed from reality, it can get in the way of recovery and taking action to improve one's situation or performance.
Level of aspiration, first conceptualized in the 1930s within the scientific analysis of goal-striving behavior, is concerned with people's estimation of their subsequent performance prior to trying a task. An early investigator (Frank, 1935:119) defined it specifically as "the level of future performance in a familiar task which an individual, knowing his level of past performance in that task, explicitly undertakes to reach." Once a level of aspiration has been set, the individual performs, examines the discrepancy between the level of aspiration and the performance, and reacts with feelings of success or failure (depending on discrepancy). These reactions could lead to trying harder, leaving the activity altogether, or continuing with a readjusted level of aspiration (Lewin et al., 1944). Early investigations on levels of aspiration were the precursors to modern research on various cognitive aspects of goal-setting, self-appraisal, and feeling of satisfaction regarding relative success and failure. Much of the basis for current views on self-regulation in terms of self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and self-reaction can be found within the level-of-aspiration paradigm (see Bandura, 1982; Carver and Scheier, 1990).
The earlier research, most of which occurred in the 1930s and 1940s (see, e.g., Festinger, 1942; Frank, 1935, 1941; Lewin et al., 1944), tried to determine the factors that influence the fluctuations in a person's level of aspiration (e.g., success and failure of comparison groups) or studied how well personality traits correlated with the phenomenon. One general finding in relation to success and failure was that subjects raised their level of aspiration after success and lowered it after failure. However, Bandura has shown that this finding does not automatically occur in real-life tasks: "Having surpassed a demanding standard through laborious effort does not automatically lead people to raise their aspiration" (Bandura, 1986:348). Whether one raises one's level of aspiration or not depends more on one's level of task-specific self-confidence. This is the additional self-evaluation mechanism
that Bandura (1977) has added to the old paradigm and the self-regulation model. In contrast, Carver and Scheier (1990) emphasize the rate of discrepancy reduction or rate of progress made toward a goal over time in determining one's level of aspiration.
Although many of the concepts related to self-confidence are investigated from different perspectives, the phenomenon of interest for most of them is the cognitive process by which a person regulates thoughts and action to attain desired outcomes or to control events in his or her life.
Self-efficacy theory was developed within the framework of a social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Bandura poses self-confidence as a common cognitive mechanism for mediating people's motivation, thought patterns, emotional reactions, and behavior. The theory was originally proposed to account for the different results achieved by the diverse methods used in clinical psychology for treating anxiety. It has since been expanded and applied to other domains of psychosocial functioning, including motivation, cognitive skill acquisition, career choice and development, health and exercise behavior, and motor performance. (For reviews on specific domains, see Feltz, 1988b; Lent and Hackett, 1987; McAuley, 1992; O'Leary, 1985; Schunk, 1984a). The theory has also been found to be equally predictive cross-culturally (Earley, 1993; Matsui, 1987; Matsui and Onglatco, 1991).
Self-confidence beliefs, defined as people's judgments of their capability to perform specific tasks, are a product of a complex process of self-persuasion that relies on cognitive processing of diverse sources of confidence information (Bandura, 1990). These sources of information include performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological states.
Performance accomplishments are supposed to provide the most dependable confidence information because they are based on one's own mastery experiences. One's mastery experiences affect self-confidence beliefs through cognitive processing of such information. If one has repeatedly viewed these experiences as successes, self-confidence will increase; if these experiences were viewed as failures, self-confidence will decrease. Furthermore, the self-monitoring or focus on successes or failures should have differential effects on behavior and self-confidence, depending on which is monitored (Bandura, 1986): focusing on one's successes should provide more encouragement and greater confidence than focusing on one's failures.
The influence that performance experiences have on perceived self-confidence also depends on the perceived difficulty of the task, the effort expended, the amount of guidance received, the temporal patterns of success and failure, and one's conception of a particular "ability" as a skill that can be acquired versus an inherent aptitude (Bandura, 1986). Bandura has argued that performance accomplishments on difficult tasks, tasks attempted independently, and tasks accomplished early in learning with only occasional failures carry greater confidence value than easy tasks, tasks accomplished with external aids, or tasks in which repeated failures are experienced early in the learning process without any sign of progress.
Confidence information can also be derived through a social comparison process with others (Festinger, 1954). Vicarious sources of confidence information are thought to be generally weaker than performance accomplishments; however, their influence on self-confidence can be enhanced by a number of factors. For instance, the less experience people have had with performance situations, the more they will rely on others in judging their own capabilities. The effectiveness of modeling procedures on one's self-confidence has also been shown to be enhanced by perceived similarities to a model in terms of performance or personal characteristics (George et al., 1992; Gould and Weiss, 1981).
Persuasive techniques are widely used by instructors, managers, coaches, parents, and peers in attempting to influence a learner's confidence, motivation, and behavior. In acquiring expert performance, Ericsson and his colleagues put a great deal of emphasis on parents' and teachers' expectations and verbal persuasions that a child is "talented" as a major influence on the child's self-confidence, motivation, and perceived protection "against doubts about eventual success during the ups and downs of extended preparation" (Ericsson et al., 1993:399). Persuasive information includes verbal persuasion, evaluative feedback, expectations by others, self-talk, imagery, and other cognitive strategies. Self-confidence beliefs based on this type of information, however, are likely to be weaker than those based on one's accomplishments, according to the theory. In addition, persuasive techniques are thought to be most effective when the heightened appraisal is slightly beyond what the person can presently do but still within realistic bounds because people are generally aware that better performances are achievable through extra effort (Bandura, 1986). The extent of persuasive influence on self-confidence has also been hypothesized to depend on the prestige, credibility, expertise, and trustworthiness of the persuader.
The causal attributions that one makes regarding previous achievement behavior also can be thought of as a source of self-persuasive information in formulating future confidence expectations. Causal attributions for previous behavior have been shown to predict confidence expectations (McAuley, 1990; Schunk and Cox, 1986). (This relationship is discussed in more detail below.)
Confidence information can also be obtained from a person's physiological state or condition. Such information is provided through cognitive appraisal (Bandura, 1986), such as associating physiological arousal with fear and self-doubt or with being psyched up and ready for performance. Eden (1990) also suggests that the stress one experiences in work can influence confidence judgments about one's coping capacity for the job. Bandura (1986) also notes that physiological sources of self-confidence judgment are not limited to autonomic arousal. 2 People use their levels of fitness, fatigue, and pain in strength and endurance activities as indicators of their physical inefficacy (Feltz and Riessinger, 1990; Taylor et al., 1985).
These four categories of confidence informationperformance accomplishments, vicarious experience, persuasion, and physiological statesare probably not mutually exclusive in terms of the information they provide, though some are more influential than others. How various sources of information are weighted and processed to make judgments given different tasks, situations, and individual skills is as yet unknown. The consequences of these judgments, however, are hypothesized to determine people's levels of motivation, as reflected in the challenges they undertake, the effort they expend in the activity, and their perseverance in the face of difficulties. People's self-confidence judgments can also influence certain thought patterns and emotional reactions (e.g., pride, shame, happiness, sadness) that also influence motivation (Bandura, 1986). For instance, self-confidence beliefs may influence people's success or failure images, worries, goal intentions, and causal attributions.
Self-Confidence, Behavior and Thought Patterns, and Motivation
Bandura (1977) states that self-efficacy (self-confidence) is a major determinant of behavior only when people have sufficient incentives to act on their self-perception of confidence and when they possess the requisite skills. He predicts that self-confidence beliefs will exceed actual performance when there is little incentive to perform the activity or when physical or social constraints are imposed on performance. An individual may have the necessary skill and high self-confidence beliefs, but no incentive to perform. Discrepancies will also occur, according to Bandura, when tasks or circumstances are ambiguous or when one has little information on which to base confidence judgments.
How individuals cognitively process confidence information also influences the relationship between self-confidence and behavior (Bandura, 1977). For example, successes and failures may be distorted in importance. People who overweigh their failures are believed to have lower expectations than those with the same performance levels who do not overweigh their failures.
The relationship between self-confidence expectations and performance accomplishments is also believed to be temporally recursive (Bandura, 1977:194): "Mastery expectations influence performance and are, in turn, altered by the cumulative effect of one's efforts." Bandura (1990) has emphasized the recursive nature of the relationship between self-confidence and thought patterns as well. The relationship between the major sources of confidence information, confidence expectations, and behavior and thought patterns, as predicted by Bandura's theory, is presented in Figure 8-1.
As just discussed, people's self-confidence beliefs are hypothesized to influence certain thought patterns and emotional reactions as well as behavior. Two thought patterns of particular interest to the study of performance motivation are goal intentions and causal attributions; a third thought pattern that can influence self-confidence beliefs is how one thinks about ability.
Self-confidence beliefs have been shown to influence future personal goal-setting and to mediate the relationship between goal intentions and motivation (Earley and Lituchy, 1991). Research has also shown that the stronger people's self-confidence beliefs (assessed independently from their goals), the higher the goals they set for themselves and the firmer their commitments are to them (Locke et al., 1984). In addition, as noted above (Kanfer, 1990a), motivation based on goal intentions is mediated by self-regulatory influences that include two types of self-reactive influences: affective self-evaluation (satisfaction/dissatisfaction), and perceived self-efficacy for goal attainment. Bandura (1990) includes a third type of self-reactive influence: adjustment of personal standards. Figure 8-2 summarizes, schematically, Kanfer's and Bandura's ideas of motivation that are based on goal intentions.
FIGURE 8-1 Relationship between sources of confidence information, confidence expectations, and behavior/thought patterns.
FIGURE 8-2 Conceptions of motivation based on goal intentions.
When performances fall short of people's personal goals (or level of aspiration), they become dissatisfied. Whether this dissatisfaction serves as an incentive or disincentive for enhanced effort is partly influenced by a person's self-confidence for goal attainment and the degree of the discrepancy (Bandura, 1986; Carver and Scheier, 1990). Bandura (1986) predicts that, in general, in the face of negative discrepancies between personal goals and attainments, those who have high self-confidence beliefs will heighten their level of effort and persistence and those who have self-doubts will quickly give up. However, if the degree of the negative discrepancy is perceived as quite large, people's self-confidence for goal attainment will be undermined. In this situation, research has shown that highly self-confident individuals will readjust their goals so as not to further undermine their self-confidence; those with little sense of self-confidence to begin with will become discouraged and abandon their goal altogether (Bandura and Cervone, 1983).
Bandura (1986, 1990) also suggests that confidence beliefs and causal attributions are reciprocal determinants of each other. According to Bandura, self-confidence beliefs help shape causal ascriptions for future behavior. People with self-beliefs of confidence have been shown to attribute failure to lack of effort; people with low self-beliefs of confidence ascribe their failures to lack of ability (Collins, 1982). Causal attributions also play a role in the formation of future confidence expectations (McAuley, 1990; Schunk and Cox, 1986). Successes are more likely to enhance self-confidence if performances are perceived as resulting from ability rather than from luck. Conversely, individuals can talk themselves out of succeeding
by attributing prior failure to inherent ability rather than to bad luck or reduced effort. Studies using causal analyses also indicate that the effects of causal attributions on performance are mediated through self-confidence beliefs (Schunk and Gunn, 1986; Schunk and Rice, 1986).
As noted above, the way that people construe ability may also influence self-confidence beliefs and other self-regulatory factors. Two conceptions of ability have been identified that lead to the development of two goal orientations (Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Elliott and Dweck, 1988; Nicholls, 1984). The first is the conception of ability as an acquirable skill: people who conceive of ability in this way adopt a learning or mastery goal (Ames, 1984; Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1984). This type of goal-orientation is well suited for skill development because people seek to improve their competence, judge their capabilities in terms of personal improvement, and regard errors as a natural part of the skill-acquisition process. Furthermore, when performance falls short of their goals, they attribute the discrepancy to inadequate effort, and their self-confidence beliefs remain minimally affected.
The second conception of ability is as a more or less inherent aptitude or entity conception: people who have an entity conception of ability adapt a performance or ability-focused goal (Ames, 1984; Dweck, 1986; Nicholls, 1984). People with this conception of ability seek to prove their competence or demonstrate their ability; they avoid demonstrating low ability and use social comparison processes to judge their ability relative to others. This type of goal-orientation is not well suited for skill development because people view errors as a threat to being able to demonstrate their ability and, thus, they avoid adopting challenging goals. When a negative discrepancy occurs between their goals and current performances, they attribute it to low ability. Research has shown that this type of ability conception increases a person's vulnerability to the adverse effects of failure (Elliott and Dweck, 1988; Jourden et al., 1991; Wood and Bandura, 1989). The feeling of failure and the attribution to low ability may also lead to dissatisfaction and a decrease in confidence beliefs and subsequently to goal abandonment. It also diverts attention away from the task and to worry (Kanfer, 1990a). The negative effects of an inherent aptitude conception are most distinct among people with low self-confidence in their ability (Kanfer, 1990a).
The structure and demands of a learning environment establish a motivational climate that can evoke different goal orientations (see Ames, 1992). For instance, schools often establish learning environments that include evaluating student achievement on the basis of normative standards and with extrinsic rewards. This structure encourages learners to use social comparison processes to judge their ability and adopt a performance-goal orientation instead of a mastery-goal orientation. Students, especially those
who lack skills and self-confidence, do far better in school settings that foster a mastery orientation by designing activities for individual challenge, using flexible and heterogeneous grouping arrangements, helping students develop self-management and self-monitoring skills, recognizing individual progress, and involving them in self-evaluation (Ames, 1992).
Much of the research on self-efficacy (self-confidence) beliefs has focused on the individual level of behavior. However, in many organizational settings, such as business, military, or sport, individuals perform as members of teams rather than just as individuals. Thus, many of the challenges and difficulties people face in organizations reflect team problems requiring team efforts to produce successful performance.
Bandura (1977, 1986) distinguishes between self-efficacy (self-confidence) and perceived collective efficacy (team confidence) in his theory of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to people's judgments of individual capabilities and effort; collective efficacy or team confidence refers to people's judgments of group capabilities and influences "what people choose to do as a group, how much effort they put into it, and their staying power when group efforts fail to produce results" (Bandura, 1986:449). In this view, teams with high collective confidence beliefs should outperform and should persist longer than teams with low perceived collective confidence. Prior to the development of Bandura's theory, Bird and Brame (1978) found team confidence to be the most powerful discriminator of winning and losing teams.
Similarly to self-confidence, the confidence of a team or organization is most likely influenced by diverse sources of confidence information. As with self-confidence beliefs, performance accomplishments of the team are predicted to be the most powerful source of information for team confidence beliefs. Organizations that have an outstanding record of performance undoubtedly cultivate a strong sense of confidence among their members. Likewise, as Eden (1990) noted in his description of organizationwide self-fulfilling prophecies, a serious performance failuresuch as the Challenger space shuttle disaster of the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationcan decrease the collective confidence of the organization's members, which, in turn, can influence subsequent failures. The perceived collective confidence of a team or group might also be influenced through a collective social comparison process with other teams. It is also possible that reciprocal social influences within a team can raise or lower collective confidence for team performance. For example, the modeling of confidence or ineffectiveness by one member of the group may influence the rest of the group's sense of confidence (Bandura, 1990). In addition, just as persuasive information can influence an individual's sense of self-confidence, collective
efficacy theory suggests that it could also influence an entire group. Charismatic leaders seem to have such persuasive influence on their organization's members (Eden, 1990).
Bandura (1986) further suggests that team confidence is rooted in self-confidence. According to Bandura, a team that has a strong sense of collective confidence can enhance the perceived task-specific confidence of its members, although a team with a weak sense of collective confidence may not totally undermine the perceived self-confidence of its more resilient members (also see Parker, 1992). Members of a team who have weak beliefs in their own individual capabilities are unlikely to be easily transformed into a strong collective force.
In terms of the assessment of perceived team confidence, Bandura (1986) suggests that team confidence may be insufficiently represented as a predictor of team performance through just the sum of the perceived personal confidences of its members, especially on highly interactive tasks or in situations in which members must work together to achieve success. A study of predicting team performance on the basis of individual performances provides some evidence for the possible moderating influence of task type on the confidence-performance relationship in teams (Jones, 1974). Using baseball (which does not require a lot of interaction among team members for team outcome), Jones (1974) predicted team outcome 90 percent of the time. However, for basketball (which does require a lot of interaction), he predicted team outcome only 35 percent of the time. This outcome suggests that the average of team members' perceptions of their team's performance capability should be added to their personal confidence to execute their individual functions in a collective task to measure team confidence.
This construct of team confidence may be related to other constructs of group motivation. For example, a team's collective confidence beliefs may also be influenced by the nature of its collective goals. As interpreted from Bandura (1986), effective team performance would require the merging of diverse individual goals in support of common group goals. If a team consists of a group of members who are all pursuing their own individual goals, they are not as apt to work together to achieve the necessary team goals to be successful, especially on highly interactive tasks. In addition, when the overall success of a team calls for sustained efforts over a long time, short-term intermediate goals may be needed to provide incentives, provide evidence of progress along the way, and sustain team confidence beliefs.
The attributions a team ascribes for its successes and failures may also influence team confidence. For example, an athletic team that defeats a difficult opponent with minimal effort may perceive itself to be highly confident. Conversely, if that same team worked very hard but lost to an easier opponent, perceived team confidence may weaken. Perceived team confidence may, in turn, influence the types of causal attributions that
teams make about their performance (Bandura, 1986, 1990). Teams with little confidence may infer that poor performance was due to a lack of ability; highly confident teams may ascribe poor performance to a lack of effort.
Team confidence and cohesion may also be related. Both constructs have been shown to be positively associated with successful performance and persistence in the face of adversity (Spink, 1990). Thus, team confidence and team cohesion appear to share some common elements.
A team's collective confidence beliefs may similarly be related to a team's desire for success. For example, Zander (1971) found that groups with a strong desire for success outperformed groups with a weaker desire for success. Over time, when a group succeeded more often than it failed, members of that group were more interested in the activity and had a stronger desire for their group to perform well (Zander, 1971). Thus, successful outcome had a cyclical relationship with desire for success. Team confidence could also be part of this relationship. Successful performance can be expected to positively influence team confidence, which in turn should lead to behaviors and actions (e.g., setting higher goals, working harder) that enhance the ability of the group to succeed in the future, resulting in an even stronger desire for group success. This relationship may not hold for tasks that are not intrinsically motivating.
Social loafing may also be conceptualized in terms of team confidence. However, social loafing (conceptualized as the motivational losses in group performance) may represent the dark side of team confidence. In typical team performance situations, the evaluation potential for any one individual is not as strong as it would be for an individual performance, and this situation can give rise to social loafing. If individual team members believe that their team is highly capable of performing a task, they may loaf. Thus, high team confidence may actually undermine contributions to team performance unless there is individual identifiability. There has not yet been research to test this ''undermining" assumption, but a considerable body of research has shown that increasing the identifiability and recognition of individual performances in groups reduces social loafing (e.g., Latané et al., 1979).
Some work suggests that self-confidence mediates the relationship between identifiability of performance and loafing (Sanna, 1992). Highly confident individuals whose performances were identifiable as part of a group's performance were less likely to loaf than were individuals with little confidence in the same situation. The results of this study suggest that when individual contributions toward team performance are identifiable, highly confident members may exert more effort toward performance than members whose confidence is not high. Increased individual effort towards performance usually facilitates successful team performance, which in turn may enhance perceived team confidence.
RESEARCH ON SELF-CONFIDENCE
Evidence for the effectiveness of self-confidence as an influential mechanism in human agency comes from a number of diverse lines of research in various domains of psychosocial functioning, including achievement motivation (Bandura and Cervone, 1983; Schunk, 1984a), career choice and development (Betz and Hackett, 1981), health and exercise behavior (DiClemente, 1981; McAuley and Jacobson, 1991), anxiety disorders (Bandura et al., 1982) and sport and motor performance (Feltz, 1982). Results of these diverse lines of research provide converging evidence that people's perceptions of their performance capability significantly affect their motivational behavior (Bandura, 1986).
This section is not an exhaustive review of all the research on self-confidence and psychosocial functioning; rather, we focus on work that is relevant to enhancing perceived self-confidence and the effects of self-confidence beliefs on performance. The first part of this section looks at research on the effect of various techniques for enhancing self-confidence beliefs; the second part considers the effects of self-confidence on performance; the third part looks at research on team confidence; and the fourth part considers how to apply those research findings.
Performance-based confidence information.
As noted above, Bandura (1977) proposed that performance accomplishments provide the most dependable source of information on which to base self-confidence judgments because they are based on one's mastery experiences. Techniques based on such performance accomplishments as participant modeling, guided exposure, physical guidance, external aids, and task modification have been effective in enhancing both self-confidence beliefs and performance in a wide variety of areas, including: reducing phobic dysfunction (Bandura et al., 1982; Biram and Wilson, 1981); mastering high-risk skills (Brody et al., 1988; Feltz et al., 1979; Weinberg et al., 1982); enhancing personal empowerment over physical threats (Ozer and Bandura, 1990); and increasing interest in mathematical tasks (Campbell and Hackett, 1986). Research has also supported the superiority of performance-based information over other sources of confidence information (e.g., Bandura and Adams, 1977; Bandura et al., 1977; Feltz et al., 1979; Lewis, 1974; McAuley, 1985).
For example, Feltz et al. (1979) investigated the effectiveness of participant, live, and videotaped modeling on learning the back dive, a high-avoidance task. Participant modeling involved an expert's demonstration
plus guided participation with the learner. On the first four performance trials (training period), the participant-modeling subjects were guided through the dives to ensure successful performance. On the second four trials (test period), the physical guidance was removed. As predicted, the participant-modeling treatment produced more successful dives and stronger confidence beliefs than either the live modeling or videotaped modeling treatments.
According to Bandura (1986), information acquired from mastery experiences does not influence self-confidence directly; rather, it depends on how the information is cognitively appraised, such as how difficult the task is perceived to be in comparison to the effort expended, how much external aid is received, the temporal pattern of one's successes and failures, and one's conception of ability. For instance, research in motor learning has shown that in initial learning the experience of a temporal pattern of early success followed by a series of failures resulted in less persistence at the task in the face of subsequent failure than the experience of early failure followed by a series of successes (Feltz et al., 1992). The early failure and subsequent success pattern was more representative of the typical learning pattern of a motor skill and, therefore, probably influenced perceptions of the skill as an acquirable one.
In another study researchers first induced different conceptions of abilityinherent aptitude or acquirable skillfor performance on a rotary pursuit task (a spinning disc with a quarter-sized target that a person tries to track and that records time on target) (Jourden et al., 1991). 3 Subjects who performed the task under the conception of ability as an acquirable skill showed increases in self-confidence, showed positive self-reactions to their performance, displayed widespread interest in the activity, and showed greater improvements in performance in comparison with those who performed the task under the inherent-aptitude conception of ability. These results suggest that instructors should use a positive approach, which emphasizes the learnability of the skill to be taught, to improve the speed and quality of skill acquisition, especially in the early phases.
Vicarious Confidence Information Information gained through vicarious experiences has been shown to influence perceived confidence in such areas as muscular endurance performance (Feltz and Riessinger, 1990; George et al., 1992; Weinberg et al., 1979); physical activity (Corbin et al., 1984); competitive persistence (Brown and Inouye, 1978); problemsolving (Schunk, 1981; Zimmerman and Ringle, 1981); phobic behavior (Bandura et al., 1977); and management training (Gist, 1989a, 1989b; Gist et al., 1989). These techniques have included modeling and social comparison. Weinberg et al. (1979) manipulated subjects' confidence beliefs about competing on a muscular endurance task by having them observe their competitor (a confederate) on a related task. The confederate either
performed poorly and was said to have a knee injury (belief of high self-confidence) or performed well and was said to be a varsity track athlete (belief of low self-confidence). Results indicated that the higher the induced self-confidence, the greater the muscular endurance. Subjects who competed against an "injured" (perceived as relatively weaker) competitor endured longer and had higher confidence expectations about winning against their opponent than those who thought they were competing against a varsity athleteeven though the subjects lost in both trials.
Modeling provides confidence information, according to Bandura (1986), through a comparative process between the model and the observer. George et al. (1992) demonstrated that a model who was similar to nonathletic observers in ability enhanced observers' confidence beliefs and endurance performance over a dissimilar model. In essence, the similar model seems to instill the attitude of "If he/she can do it, so can I." Also, the use of multiple models has been shown to enhance the modeling effect (Lewis, 1974). Bandura (1977) reasoned that observers would have a stronger basis on which to increase their own self-confidence if they could see a number of people of widely differing characteristics succeeding at a task.
Persuasory Confidence Information For many kinds of performance, people are influenced by the opinions of othersteachers, coaches, peers, and managersin judging their ability to perform a task. People may also try to persuade themselves that they have the ability to perform a given task through imagery and causal attributions for previous performances. Verbal persuasion by itself is of limited influence, and for treating phobias in clinical psychology it is often used in combination with other techniques, such as hypnosis, relaxation, or performance deception. However, in athletic, educational, and work situations, for which the fear component is unlikely to be as paralyzing as in chronic phobias, persuasive techniques by themselves may improve performance more successfully than in phobic behavior; but there has been little research on this possibility.
The few studies that have been conducted in motor performance report mixed results (Feltz and Riessinger, 1990; Fitzsimmons et al., 1991; Weinberg, 1985; Wilkes and Summers, 1984; Yan Lan and Gill, 1984). Weinberg (1985) found no effects on endurance performance with the use of dissociation and positive self-talk strategies, and Yan Lan and Gill (1984) found that providing subjects with bogus feedback and the suggestion that elevated arousal levels were indicative of good performance did not induce higher self-confidence. In contrast, Wilkes and Summers (1984) found persuasive techniques that tried to enhance confidence and emotional arousal influenced strength performance, but confidence-related cognitions did not seem to mediate the effect. Fitzsimmons et al. (1991) found that false positive feedback increased self-confidence judgments and future weightlifting
performance. In addition, Feltz and Riessinger (1990) found significant effects on endurance performance using mastery imagery, with corresponding effects on self-confidence.
One explanation for the equivocal findings in these studies may be the differences in the degree of persuasive influence of their techniques and the extent of their subjects' personal experience on the task. In the Weinberg (1985) study, subjects were not told that the cognitive strategy they were to use would enhance their performance. There was no attempt at persuasion. In comparison, Wilkes and Summers (1984) instructed their subjects to persuade themselves that they were confident or to persuade themselves that they were "charged up."
The degree of persuasive influence also depends on the believability of the persuasive information. Yan Lan and Gill (1984) tried to lead subjects to believe that they had the same heightened pattern of physiological arousal as good competitors. However, there was no manipulation check that the subjects believed the persuasion. Fitzsimmons et al. (1991), in contrast, used pilot data to ensure that the deceptive feedback provided was believable.
The lack of persuasive effects in some of the research may also have been due to confounding with actual performance. All of the studies used multiple performance trials; thus, subjects may have formed perceptions on the basis of their performance experience that overshadowed much of the influence that the treatment variable had on self-confidence. This explanation is supported by research showing that the significant effects for endurance performance and self-confidence were short-lived after subjects experienced performance failure (Feltz and Riessinger, 1990).
A slightly different line of research in organizational behavior has shown consistent effects for instructors' expectancies on trainees' self-confidence and performance (Eden, 1990; Eden and Ravid, 1982; Eden and Shani, 1982). These studies induced military instructors to expect higher performance from some trainees than others. Not all of these studies measured self-confidence (or self-expectancy, as used in the studies), but those that did showed that high expectancy trainees had higher levels of self-confidence and performance than low expectancy trainees.
Performance Feedback Evaluation feedback about ongoing performances has also been used as a persuasive technique (Bandura, 1986). Instructors, managers, and coaches often try to boost perceived trainees' self-confidence by providing encouraging feedback. Positive feedback about ongoing performance has been shown to instill higher perceptions of confidence than no feedback at all (Vallerand, 1983). Also, feedback on causal attribution that credits progress to underlying ability or effort has been shown to raise perceived confidence more than no feedback or feedback that implies lesser ability (Schunk, 1983a). However, inappropriately high amounts of positive
feedback can be detrimental to self-perceptions and motivation when used on individuals differentially because it implies low ability (Horn, 1985; Meyer, 1982). For instance, Horn (1985) found that the frequent use of positive reinforcement by coaches for less-skilled players resulted in lower perceived competence in those athletes, while the use of higher amounts of mistake-contingent criticism for highly-skilled players led to higher levels of perceived competence. Horn reasoned that the liberal use of praise given to low-skilled players was not performance-contingent and thus communicated to them that their coach held lower expectations for them.
In addition to its use as a persuasive technique, evaluative feedback can also add to enactive confidence information regarding ongoing performance as it conveys signs of progress. In order to be informative and motivative, feedback must be provided in reaction to defined performance standards or goals (Bandura, 1986). Otherwise, there is no basis on which to form internal comparisons to be able to evaluate ongoing performance. A wealth of research has shown that both feedback and goal setting are needed to enhance performance (Bandura and Cervone, 1983; Erez, 1977; Feltz and Riessinger, 1990; Locke and Latham, 1990; Strang et al., 1978). Even in the face of substandard performance, Bandura (1986) suggests that subjects' motivation and self-confidence may not be undermined if the discrepancy is only moderate and they are given knowledge of that discrepancy.
Causal Attributions Studies that have examined the influence of causal attributions on self-confidence beliefs have either assessed the attributions that individuals have made for previous performances in relation to the confidence expectations for future performances (McAuley, 1990, 1991) or have manipulated attributional feedback concerning previous performance to examine the effect on subsequent confidence expectations (Schunk, 1983a, 1984a; Schunk and Cox, 1986; Schunk and Gunn, 1986). Much of this research, conducted on educational learning has generally shown that attributions made or induced for previous performance that are internal and subject to personal control (e.g., effort and ability) will raise self-confidence beliefs for subsequent performance. Therefore, helping individuals attribute good performance to ability, skill improvement, or hard work and their bad performances to lack of effort, lack of sufficient practice time, or use of an inappropriate strategy can be expected to improve their self-confidence beliefs and motivation for continued performance.
Physiological Confidence Information The few studies that have investigated the influence of physiological or emotional states on self-confidence are equivocal (Feltz, 1982, 1988a; Feltz and Mugno, 1983; Juneau et al., 1986; Kavanagh and Hausfeld, 1986). For diving tasks, Feltz (1988a) found that perceived autonomic arousal, rather than actual physiological arousal, significantly predicted confidence judgments. Juneau et al. (1986) found that individuals
who focused on their physical stamina as they mastered increasing workloads on a treadmill judged their cardiac confidence as more robust than those who focused on the negative signs. For strength tasks, however, Kavanagh and Hausfeld (1986) found that induced moods (happiness or sadness), as measured by self-reports, did not alter confidence expectations in any consistent manner. Bandura (1988) has argued that it is people's perceived coping confidence that is more indicative of capability than their perception of their physiological arousal condition. If people believe that they cannot cope with a potential threat, they experience disruptive arousal, which may further lower their confidence judgments that they can perform successfully. Evidence for this argument comes from research that has shown that it is not the frightful cognitions themselves that account for anxiety symptoms, but the perceived self-confidence to control them (Kent, 1987; Kent and Gibbons, 1987).
A number of instructional practices are important contextual influences on self-confidence that do not necessarily fit into any of the four principal sources of confidence information (Schunk, 1984b). In addition to evaluative and attributional feedback, these practices include goal setting and reward contingencies. Schunk (1985) has suggested that these contextual influences convey confidence information to learners by making salient certain cues that learners use to appraise their self-confidence.
The research on goal setting and self-confidence has generally shown that setting goals for oneself and attaining them, especially specific, difficult, and proximal goals, enhance perceptions of self-confidence (Bandura and Schunk, 1981; Locke et al., 1984; Manderlink and Harackiewicz, 1984; Schunk, 1983b; Stock and Cervone, 1990). Specific goals raise confidence expectations to a greater extent than more abstract goals because they provide more explicit information with which to gauge one's progress. Difficult goals raise confidence expectations more than do easy goals because they, too, offer more information about one's capability to achieve.
Although the research supports the setting of difficult goals, experts recommend that they be realistic (Locke and Latham, 1990). Garland (1983), however, has questioned the basis of the goal attainability assumption in setting difficult goals. Laboratory experiments on goal-setting have found positive relationships between goal difficulty and performance even when the goals assigned to individuals were difficult and beyond their reach (Weinberg, 1992). One factor that may resolve the differences between experts' recommendations and laboratory evidence is task type. The type of task used in goal-setting studies has been observed to mediate this positive relationship between goal difficulty and performance (Tubbs, 1986; Wood et al., 1987). Kanfer and Ackerman (1989) have provided a theoretical explanation for
this mediating effect in terms of resource capacity and attentional demands of the task: that is, setting and striving for goals impose additional attentional demands on the individual. In learning complex tasks, such as air-traffic control operations, the benefits of goal-setting are difficult to realize because of the already high attentional demands of the task (Kanfer and Ackerman, 1989). In simple tasks, such as performing sit-ups, attentional demands are minimal, which leaves plenty of room available for engaging in the self-regulatory activity of goal-setting.
One problem in being assigned specific and difficult goals (versus selecting one's own goals) is that it may create a performance goal orientation that focuses one's attention on proving one's ability (Kanfer, 1990a:229): "The assigned performance goal sets the objective standard for proving one's ability." In a learning situation, the adoption of a difficult goal when trying to prove one's ability emphasizes the negative discrepancy and, thus, the feeling of failure, attribution to low ability, and a decrease in self-confidence about the task. Research is needed to determine whether assigning specific and difficult goals creates a performance goal orientation and whether assigning less specific goals might offset some of the negative motivational effects of assigning difficult goals, including a decreased sense of self-confidence.
In addition to specific and difficult goals, immediate goals are also easier to gauge in terms of progress than are distant goals. They make a task appear more manageable, provide an indication of progress, and affect self-evaluative reactions to performance (Stock and Cervone, 1990). A few studies have found no difference between immediate and distant goals (e.g., Bandura and Simon, 1977; Dubbert and Wilson, 1984), but many of the subjects assigned long-term goals in these studies were found to have spontaneously set short-term subgoals for themselves, which contaminated the findings. However, research on long-term goal-setting programs to improve the study skills and grades of college students suggests that relatively long-term plans and goals are most beneficial because they allow flexible choice among daily activities (Kirschenbaum, 1985; Kirschenbaum et al., 1981, 1982). One way to reconcile these divergent findings is to view them in terms of stages of skill acquisition. For instance, it may be argued that short-term goals facilitate performance and perceived competence in the early stages of skill acquisition, but as competence develops over time, moderately long-term goals allow greater flexibility and choice and may be viewed as less controlling than short-term goals (Manderlink and Harackiewicz, 1984).
In addition to examining goal-setting influences on self-confidence and performance in relation to stages of skill acquisition, examining them in relation to one's rate of progress may also explain divergent findings. Carver and Scheier (1981) propose that when one encounters difficulty in executing a higher order (more distant) goal, attention is shifted back to a lower order (more immediate) subgoal. As discrepancy toward the subgoal is
reduced, attention shifts back to the higher order goal. As long as one is making good progress toward a long-term goal, one's attention does not need to shift to subgoals to feel confident and be successful. Future research is needed to determine under what conditions and with what tasks different goal-setting techniques enhance self-confidence and performance.
Another common instructional practice to enhance motivation is the use of rewards. Providing rewards (incentives) for desirable outcomes imparts information as well as motivation (Bandura, 1986). Informing learners that they can earn rewards on the basis of what they accomplish is hypothesized to influence their self-confidence for learning. As individuals work toward a task and note their progress, their sense of confidence can be validated through rewards. Rewards have been shown to heighten self-confidence beliefs more when they are contingent on performance than when offered simply for participation (Schunk, 1983c). As with feedback, rewards may actually reduce self-confidence beliefs if they are given in a noncontingent manner for some learners and not others or if they are distributed within a competitive reward structure (Ames, 1981); competitive reward structures emphasize social comparisons that can result in differential ability attributions (Schunk, 1985).
Effects of Self-Confidence on Performance
Numerous studies have examined the relationship between self-confidence and motivated behavior or performance across a number of tasks and situations (Bandura, 1986). Although these correlational results do not necessarily demonstrate a causal relationship between self-confidence and performance, they do provide convergent evidence of a consistent association between self-confidence and performance of at least a moderate magnitude. For instance, in sport and exercise, Feltz (1988b) found that the correlations between self-confidence and subsequent performance in 28 studies ranged from .19 to .73, with a median of .54. Other studies have experimentally manipulated perceived self-confidence levels and then measured subjects' motivation in coping behavior (Bandura et al., 1982), endurance performance (Feltz and Riessinger, 1990; Weinberg et al., 1979); problem solving (Cervone and Peake, 1986), and pain tolerance (Litt, 1988). In general, these diverse causal tests provide corroborating evidence that perceived self-confidence contributes significantly to motivated behavior and performance.
Attempting to demonstrate the causal influence of self-confidence on behavior and performance through experimental manipulation of self-confidence, however, has been criticized as leading to an arbitrary interpretation of the relationship of self-confidence to performance (Biglan, 1987). Biglan points out that when environmental variables are manipulated in order to manipulate self-confidence ratings, performance behavior or other factors are also af-
fected. Environmental manipulations may influence some other variable (e.g., anxiety) that influences self-confidence and performance without any causal role for self-confidence. "Third variable" causes must be considered, but this is difficult to do in traditional experimental studies, especially when considering a network of causal relationships. In such situations, path analysis or structural-equation modeling is an appropriate method to investigate a network of causal relationships (Anderson and Evans, 1974; Cook and Campbell, 1979; Duncan, 1975). Path analysis and structural-equation modeling allow one to test whether the model presented fits a set of data adequately by comparing the observed relationships among the variables with the predicted relationships. These methods also permit an estimation of the relative indirect and direct contributions of effects. Causal modeling methods are not techniques for discovering causal directions, but, rather, for testing directions of causation that have already been specified by a model.
Causal modeling techniques have been used in a number of self-confidence studies to control for the contribution of other possible factors and to test the network of causal relationships posed by a theory (Dzewaltowski, 1989; Dzewaltowski et al., 1990; Earley and Lituchy, 1991; Feltz, 1982, 1988a; Feltz and Mugno, 1983; Garland et al., 1988; Hackett, 1985; Locke et al., 1984; McAuley, 1985, 1990; Ozer and Bandura, 1990; Schunk, 1981; Wood and Bandura, 1989; Zimmerman et al., 1992). In general, these studies have found self-confidence to be a major determinant of motivated behavior or performance and to be influenced by performance in a recursive fashion. For motor behavior and performance, existing self-confidence has been shown to predict initial performance, but as one gains experience on the task, performance also becomes a strong predictor of both future performance and self-confidence (Feltz, 1982, 1988a; Feltz and Mugno, 1983; McAuley, 1985). These results indicate that performance-based treatments may be affecting behavior through other mechanisms, as well as perceived self-confidence. One of the mechanisms not investigated in these studies on motor performance is goal effects. Path-analytic studies that have included goal effects have generally found that assigned goals influence both self-confidence and personal goals and that both variables, in turn, have direct effects on performance (Earley and Lituchy, 1991; Locke et al., 1984; Wood and Bandura, 1989; Zimmerman et al., 1992).
Although team confidence is recognized as being important to group or team functioning, there has been little research on it (Bandura, 1986). Studies have examined group confidence in social dilemmas (Kerr, 1989), school systems (Parker, 1992), and sports (Feltz et al., 1989; Spink, 1990). Two of these studies (Feltz et al., 1989; Parker, 1992) found some support for
Bandura's (1986) proposition that an aggregate of group members' perceived confidence of the group as a whole would be more predictive of the group's performance than an aggregate of the members' judgments of their own confidence when there is at least a moderate level of interdependent effort required of the group.
Because school systems require at least a moderate level of interdependence among their teachers, Parker (1992) examined teachers' beliefs in their own instructional self-confidence and their beliefs about their schools' collective capability to predict schools' levels of academic achievements. Teachers were asked to rate their self-confidence in three teaching domains (reading, mathematics, and language), as well as their beliefs in the collective confidence of the school as a whole in the same three areas. Each teacher's self-confidence and school confidence ratings were then compared with the performances of the students in each teacher's school on a standardized test of reading, mathematics, and language proficiencies. The teachers' perceived confidence in their school's capability (perceived school confidence) predicted the academic achievements of the students in their school and that these collective confidence beliefs of the school were more predictive of the academic achievement of the students than were the teachers' beliefs of their own instructional self-confidence, thus, supporting Bandura's (1986) hypothesis.
Feltz et al. (1989) compared self-confidence and team confidence in the prediction of team performance of seven collegiate hockey teams across a 32-game season. A team confidence measure was constructed after conducting a conceptual analysis of the competence areas required in hockey (with the consultation of two collegiate hockey coaches). The resulting measure of team confidence had seven dimensions: (1) winning against opponents, (2) outskating opponents, (3) outchecking opponents, (4) forcing more turnovers than opponents, (5) bouncing back from poor performances more than opponents, (6) performing better in power play situations than opponents, and (7) performing better in short-handed situations than opponents. Initial analyses have indicated that team confidence was only slightly more predictive of team performance than was individual confidence. However, when wins and losses were analyzed by game, team confidence was more affected by losses than was individual confidence.
The construct of team or collective confidence is still in a rudimentary stage in terms of understanding and explaining motivation. Clearly, a greater understanding of its utility will come from rigorous and systematic research. Toward this end, Bandura (1990) suggests that advances in research on team confidence will be greatly influenced by the development of appropriate measures; specifically, measures of perceived team confidence need to be tied closely to explicit indices of group performance. This may be best accomplished by conducting conceptual analyses of the competence areas within a group's performance.
Although Bandura's theory of self-efficacy as a self-confidence concept is not without its criticisms (see Biglan, 1987; Eastman and Marzillier, 1984; Feltz, 1988b; Lee, 1989), research on self-confidence from divergent psychosocial domains of functioning and from different cultural environments (Earley, 1993; Matsui, 1987; Matsui and Onglatco, 1991) has consistently shown self-perceptions of ability to be an important and necessary cognitive mechanism in explaining motivated behavior and performance. However, self-confidence, as a common mechanism that mediates behavior, cannot be expected to account for all behavior change in human performance (Bandura, 1984). Even so, given the demonstrated importance of self-confidence in enhancing performance, numerous inferences can be drawn to help individuals develop and maintain self-confidence to improve motivation for performance.
Techniques for Enhancing Self-Confidence
In this section research and theory from self-efficacy, goal-setting, and attributions are used to speculate on practical ways to enhance self-confidence for motivation and performance. Applications for enhancing self-confidence are organized around techniques that are based on the four sources of confidence information within Bandura's theory of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977): performance-based strategies, modeling, persuasion and communication, and anxiety-reduction strategies.
Given that the relationship between self-confidence and motivated behavior or performance has been well documented, the important goal is to find ways to enhance self-confidence beliefs. Research has supported that the strongest and most durable determinant of self-confidence is the experience of mastery or performance accomplishments.
One way of facilitating performance mastery is through instructional strategies 4 (Schunk, 1985). The instructor can provide for maximum skill development through an instructional sequence of developmental or modified activities, breaking the skill into parts, providing performance aids, physical guidance, or a combination of these methods. For example, the instructor can physically guide learners through the movements, have them practice on a simulation training device, or design a series of progressive activities to challenge their improving skills. These successes should be based on relevant and realistic progressions: progress must be in small enough increments to ensure intermediary successes, which can lead to mastery of the final goal. Performance aids and physical guidance should be gradually removed as soon as possible, however, so that learners can engage in self-directed mastery experiences. As noted, self-directed experiences indi-
cate higher levels of self-confidence to individuals than do externally guided experiences because the performance is attributed to a person's own effort and ability rather than external aids (Bandura, 1986).
A second effective means of ensuring performance accomplishments is through goal-settingdefining realistic performance standards toward which individuals strive. For complex tasks, the goals should be specific and challenging but attainable. For easy or routine tasks, the harder the goal, the better the performance. Assuming an individual has the requisite skills and commitments, working toward difficult goals can build a strong sense of confidence because the goals offer more information about the performer's capability to acquire knowledge and skills than do easier goals. Some individuals, however, may need some persuasive help to be convinced that the goals are not too difficult (Schunk, 1983b). In addition, for complex and difficult tasks, short-term goals should be used along with long-term goals. Similarly, when using short-term goals, the performer's perceptions of self-confidence for attainment of future goals should be monitored, as well as perceptions of self-confidence that result from goal attainment. As Stock and Cervone (1990) point out, goal-setting strategies will not help individuals who lack a sense of efficacy for attaining the subgoals or those who do not experience enhanced feelings of confidence when they attain the subgoals.
Feedback also appears necessary for goals to have maximum effectiveness in enhancing self-confidence and improving performance. Furthermore, when one is first learning complex tasks, self-confidence beliefs and success can be enhanced by emphasizing process-related (or learning) goals over outcome-related (or performance) goals. Rather than defining success through outcome measures, such as winning and losing or number of tasks completed, success should be redefined to include process variables, such as effort, form, and strategy. These process-related goals are important because they help individuals focus on the learnability of a skill rather than viewing the skill as requiring inherent aptitude (Jourden et al., 1991).
When individuals have had no prior experience with a task, observing others (modeling) is one means of providing information by which to judge one's own capabilities. For instance, observing others engaging in threatening activities without adverse consequences can reduce inhibitions in observers (Lewis, 1974). The models can be similar in terms of personal characteristics (e.g., age, sex, race) and skill levels, but similarity in skills appears to be more salient to observers than personal characteristics (George et al., 1992). The content of the model's statements is also an influential factor in raising perceptions of efficacy (Gould and Weiss, 1981; Schunk,
1981). Models can provide information and strategies about how to perform the task as well as confidence statements.
The use of multiple demonstrators and coping models has also been shown to influence the effectiveness of demonstrations (Bandura et al., 1982; Lewis, 1974). Bandura (1986) has reasoned that the more different types of people observers see succeeding at a skill, the stronger the convictions will be that they, too, can succeed. Coping models, who initially exhibit difficulty on the task in the same way as learners do but gradually overcome those difficulties, provide the learners with information that this task can be accomplished through perseverance.
The U.S. Olympic Training Center has used observational techniques in a slightly different manner in an attempt to increase an athlete's confidence expectations and performance. In this self-modeling technique, videotapes of an athlete's performance is altered to eliminate the mistakes and then replayed a number of times for the athlete in hopes of altering the athlete's performance beliefs. Research has not yet been provided to determine the effectiveness of this technique with athletes; however, it has been shown to be effective with persons exhibiting deficient speaking skills by editing out the mistakes, hesitancies, and external aids from the videotapes and playing them back to the speakers (Dowrick, 1983).
Persuasion and Positive Communication
Although persuasion and communication techniques alone may be of limited value in enhancing self-confidence beliefs, they may be effective when used in conjunction with performance-based techniques and are provided in a manner contingent to performance. Because it is difficult to evaluate one's own progress in many activities, credible and expert observers can help stretch one's confidence beliefs through effective persuasion techniques. Persuasive information is probably most important during early stages of skill acquisition, when learners lack task experience and knowledge of their capabilities.
As discussed above, to be effective the persuasive information must be believable and, therefore, should be only slightly beyond what the learners can do at that time. For instance, if one is using imagery to try to help convince individuals that they can endure more muscular fatigue, manage potential threats safely, achieve greater athletic feats, or return to performance from injury, the imagery should be structured so that the individuals imagine themselves performing just slightly better than what they think they can do. As with setting goals, the imagery should be challenging but attainable. Mastery experiences should then be arranged to facilitate effective performance.
For individuals who are experienced at a task but are in a performance
slump or plateau, false performance feedback (performance deception) has been used successfully to improve performance (Fitzsimmons et al., 1991). As with the other persuasion techniques, it is important that the deception is believable. For instance, if a coach is trying to improve an athlete's maximum press in weight lifting by persuading him to think he is lifting less weight than he is actually pressing, the difference between the two should be small. Instructors should also be aware that continually deceiving one's students may undermine the trust they need to have in order to attempt new skills.
A second category of persuasion techniques involves effective communication from instructor to learner. These strategies include performance feedback, rewards, causal attribution feedback, and positive communication. Performance feedback can provide clear information that learners are making progress toward their goals. As noted above, however, feedback must be given contingently in relation to defined performance standards or goals, and it must be given consistently to all learners so as not to create expectancy effects. If a wide discrepancy continues between performance and goals, short-term subgoals should be constructed to reduce the discrepancy.
Different types of performance feedback should be used, depending on a learner's phase of skill acquisition: progress feedback provides information on an individual's progress without regard to others; normative feedback compares an individual's progress in relation to others. Progress feedback should be used during the early phase of skill acquisition or with persons who are likely to perform more poorly in comparison with others because normative feedback can debilitate learning if used before an individual has developed a resilient sense of self-confidence for the task (Kanfer, 1990b). Normative feedback can be used during later phases of skill acquisition.
As with performance feedback, if rewards are used they must be clearly tied to performance progress in order to influence self-confidence (Schunk, 1983c, 1984a). The combination of performance-contingent rewards with short-term goals appears to enhance self-confidence beliefs better than either technique alone (Schunk, 1984a).
Attributional feedback and positive communication are especially important techniques when mistakes and setbacks occur. Because mistakes and failures are inevitable, the way in which an instructor communicates and interacts with a learner will have an important influence on the learner's self-confidence. Telling learners that their past failures were due to insufficient effort, rather than lack of ability, can help them meet their setbacks with renewed vigor and persistence because lack of effort can be rectified. But encouraging learners to emphasize external factors (e.g., bad luck or task difficulty) as the reason for a setback (as some athletic coaches do) could be a serious mistake if the mistake and attribution occur repeatedly, because the learners may start to perceive that the outcome is out of their control and not take responsibility for their performance.
of the task and a learner's actual efforts have to be taken into account. If an instructor tells a learner that her failure on a difficult task, for which she expended a lot of effort, was due to lack of effort, she is apt to interpret the feedback as lack of ability or start to distrust the instructor's feedback. In situations in which learners are expending great effort at difficult tasks and still not succeeding, the instructor needs to help them acknowledge the difficulty of the task and set up modified challenges that can be accomplished.
Positive communication by an instructor has been shown to be very helpful in reducing the negative affect that occurs in failure situations (Smith et al., 1979). Positive communication is performance contingent, but it focuses on positive aspects of performance while acknowledging mistakes, provides instructional feedback, and emphasizes the learning nature of task acquisition (Eden, 1990; Jourden et al., 1991). Most individuals feel discouraged and ashamed when they do not perform well and need the assurance and encouragement of the instructor in regard to their abilities. In response to a learner's mistakes, the instructor should not focus on the error itself, but instead find something positive and constructive to say about improving the performance. Four steps characterize this positive approach to mistakes. First, the learner's distress about the mistake is acknowledged. Second, the learner is complimented by the instructor's finding something about the performance that was correct. The compliment must be about an important and relevant aspect of the task; otherwise, it is likely to be discounted by the learners. Third, the instructor provides instructions on how the learner can improve the mistake. Fourth, the instructor ends with a positive note by encouraging the learner to keep trying. These four steps ''sandwich" skill instructions between words of encouragement and praise. A positive communication style allays feelings of embarrassment and promotes a sense of self-confidence.
Some individuals may interpret increases in their physiological arousal as a fear that they cannot perform a skill successfully. Thus, it is believed that if the arousal of these individuals can be reduced through such techniques as relaxation and biofeedback, fears will decrease and self-confidence will increase. However, as Bandura (1988) argued, it is one's perceived coping confidence that plays a central role in controlling fear arousal: people with low perceived coping confidence tend to focus on the danger and fear cues; those with high levels of coping confidence concentrate on the task at hand (Keinan, 1988).
Helping individuals believe that they can exercise control over potential threats and frightful cognitions is the way to decrease fears and increase
self-confidence. One way to help improve coping confidence is to teach individuals coping strategies to use to manage threatening situations, such as positive self-talk. Research has shown that positive self-talk can help individuals manage stressful situations if they believe that the technique will help them cope (Girodo and Wood, 1979). According to Bandura (1986), the persuasion that the technique will help the individual cope more effectively is what instills a sense of personal control, which enhances coping confidence.
Another technique that instructors can use to help improve coping confidence is to try to manipulate the environment to reduce the uncertainties of the situation. For example, sources of uncertainty might include how dangerous the situation is, how well one expects to perform, whether one will be asked to perform, or what one's coworkers, colleagues, or teammates will think. Uncertainty can be reduced by providing information of task requirements, providing assurance to the learner (or performer), and emphasizing realistic, short-term goals that take the attention away from long-range outcomes. Simulation training can also help to reduce uncertainties about stressors. However, simulation training that involves exposure to serious physical threats reduces anxiety only when it is perceived as successful (Keinan, 1988). Individuals who have low coping self-confidence might require some preparatory coping interventions before they are exposed to simulation training that is physically dangerous or threatening.
Self-confidence is a potent predictor of an individual's performance, given the appropriate skills and adequate incentives. The role of an instructor, manager, or coach, therefore, is to develop and sustain a learner's high level of self-confidence by ensuring performance success, using modeling and persuasion techniques, communicating effectively, and reducing anxiety-producing factors. These techniques can be used in combination with each other in various ways, depending on the task and the learner, to enhance self-confidence.
Many of these techniques can also be applied to enhance team confidence. For instance, if a team is having some difficulty achieving a task or solving a problem, the instructor or leader can design a series of progressive activities for the team and help them set short-term team goals that emphasize process variables (e.g., strategy) rather than outcome variables. Teams can also observe other, similar teams that persevere in the face of adversity or that demonstrate successful strategies about how to perform the group task. Self-modeling techniques, in which mistakes are edited out of a performance, can also be used to enhance confidence, although no research to date has explored the effectiveness of this technique with teams.
The communication techniques described can be used with teams as well as individuals. Team confidence can be expected to be enhanced when contingent performance feedback and rewards are provided to the team and
when the feedback is positively focused and the causal attribution is appropriate to the difficulty of the task and the team's effort expenditure.
Lastly, as with individual coping confidence in threatening situations, team coping confidence can be enhanced and anxiety reduced by reducing the uncertainties that a team faces. Techniques for reducing uncertainties for teams also include simulation training, observing other teams performing the task, and providing as much information regarding the task as possible.
Four major categories of techniques have been described to enhance self- and team confidence. Evidence for the use of these techniques has come from an extensive and diverse research literature, but there are still a number of areas of research that are needed to better understand self-confidence and to enhance performance.
FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
Most of the research and applications on self-confidence have been concerned with the influence of unidimensional confidence information on individual performance. Other areas that deserve attention are how people process multidimensional confidence information; the study of self-confidence over time and in different situations; the relationships among self-confidence, goals and goal orientations; individual differences in self-confidence; and team confidence.
Scant research has been conducted on how people process multidimensional confidence information and the heuristics they use in weighting and integrating these sources of information in forming their confidence judgments (Bandura, 1986). The importance of different types of information may vary across different types of activities and situations. For instance, in some sport and exercise situations, physiological information may be a more pertinent source of confidence information than previous performance. In addition, people may weight sources of information differently in different phases of skill acquisition. In processing multidimensional information, people may also misjudge or ignore relevant information in trying to integrate different information (Bandura, 1986). Results from research on these questions will help to understand how self-confidence expectations gain their predictive power; it will also have implications for the type and amount of confidence information provided to individuals for particular types of activities and situations.
Other motivational variables, such as goal orientations and conceptions of ability as they relate to goal setting and self-confidence, have received little attention in research except for Kanfer (1990a), who has noted that different goal orientations may be called for at different phases of skill acquisition. Research is needed to examine induced differential goal orientations in relation to goal-setting and self-confidence at different phases of skill acquisition and for different kinds of tasks (e.g., complex, physically
threatening, mundane). Studying confidence judgments across extended periods of performance and across situations or tasks may be the most informative paradigm for testing the relative contribution of self- or team confidence and other cognitions to performance over time, as well as for testing changes in sources of confidence information.
Besides goal orientation and conceptions of ability, other individual difference variablessuch as gender, gender role orientations, and self-focus (see Carver and Scheier, 1981) or action control (Kuhl, 1984)may play a role in determining self-confidence. For instance, research has generally shown that males view themselves as more confident than females in achievement activities that have been stereotypically linked with males (Campbell and Hackett, 1986; Fennema and Sherman, 1978; Lirgg, 1991). Further research is needed to explore the extent to which individual differences mediate the relationship between confidence judgments and performance.
The resiliency of confidence beliefs may also be an important factor in the relationships between self- or team confidence and performance. Bandura (1986, 1990) has suggested that self-confidence must be resilient in order for one to persist and sustain effort in the face of failure. Ericsson et al. (1993) also allude to this in their discussion of the role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. According to Bandura, experience with failures and setbacks is needed to develop this robust sense of self-confidence. Future research might examine how different patterns of success and failure influence the development of a robust sense of confidence. In addition, Bandura (1990) notes that when self-doubt sets in after failure, some individuals recover from their perceived low confidence more quickly than others. Similarly, some teams may be able to regain their sense of confidence after a setback more quickly than other teams. Knowing how and why some individuals and teams are able to regain their sense of confidence more quickly than others would be a valuable source of information for designing interventions that would help confidence recovery. Furthermore, although according to Bandura (1986, 1989), an optimistic sense of self-confidence is advantageous to continued effort and persistence, substantial overestimates of one's competence provide a dangerous basis for action (Baumeister, 1989). Research is needed to determine the optimal distortion necessary to foster the persistence needed for mastering various tasks.
In the area of team confidence, a number of other issues are in need of further investigation, such as sources of team confidence information, the relationship of team confidence to group attributions and other group motivation concepts, and the influence of team leaders on team confidence. Although Bandura (1986) postulated that teams are influenced by the same sources of confidence information as individuals, there may be other sources that are unique to a team. Perhaps social, community, or political support provides important team confidence information. For sports teams, the
media may provide a source of team confidence information (although this may also be the case for individual athletes).
Research has also yet to examine the relationship between team confidence and other conceptual and theoretical perspectives of group motivation. For example, relationships between team confidence and team attributions, desire for team success, and social loafing have yet to be studied. Only one study has examined team confidence and team cohesion (Spink, 1990).
Lastly, the influence of team leaders may also provide some insight on team confidence and performance. Bandura (1990) has suggested that a performance slump, especially by a key member of the team or the team leader, could influence the confidence that other members have in the team's ability to be successful.
Similarly, managers' and team leaders' leadership confidence may affect team confidence and performance. Wood and Bandura (1989) found evidence that perceived managerial self-confidence both directly and indirectly influenced organizational performance by the effect it had on people's goal setting and use of analytic strategies. Other research has shown that a high sense of personal confidence enhances strategic thinking and facilitates organizational performance under varying levels of organizational complexity and goal assignments (Wood et al., 1990). It could be argued, therefore, that the confidence a team has in a key member or in its leader may also have an important effect on team effectiveness. In addition to the confidence a team has in its leader, the confidence that a leader has in his or her team may also affect team performance. Some support has been found for this argument (Chase et al., 1993), but further research is required to link antecedents and consequences of such confidence beliefs.
In addition to leadership confidence, different kinds of leaders' behaviors may also influence individual and team confidence for certain tasks and certain team members. Research on leadership behavior has suggested a path-goal theory of leadership: this theory argues that the central function of a leader is to create positive performance expectancies (or self-confidence beliefs) among team members (subordinates) (Evans, 1974; Fulk and Wendler, 1982; House and Mitchell, 1974). Certain leader behaviors (supportive, directive, participative, and achievement oriented) are hypothesized to differentially influence the self-confidence and effort-performance expectancies among team members, depending on the task and its characteristics. For instance, supportive leadership behavior (e.g., concern for welfare of team members) should lead to increased self-confidence among team members for tasks that are stressful, boring, tedious, or dangerous, but not for tasks that are interesting and enjoyable and for which team members are confident in their ability to complete the task. Leadership behaviors that are directive (e.g., giving specific guidance, close supervision), participative (e.g., consulting with team members), and achievement oriented (e.g.,
setting challenging goals) should increase self-confidence when the task is unstructured and complex, but not when the task is simple, repetitive, or highly structured. Although Yukl (1989) suggests that the theory has yet to be adequately tested, it can provide a framework in which to investigate possible moderating variables of leadership influences on both self-confidence and team confidence.
1 The large number of citations in this chapter to Bandura's work reflects the fact that most of the research on self-efficacy has been done in his laboratory. One advantage of relying on the research of one team of investigators is that the work displays an analytical progression as later studies build on the results obtained from earlier work. Another advantage of Bandura's work is that the approach identifies sources of confidence information that provide a basis for practical ways of enhancing performance, as discussed below. A disadvantage is that this work is based largely on a particular theoretical perspective, which may not be the only framework for studying the relationship between self-confidence and performance.
2 Autonomic arousal is the physiological arousal that is under the control of the autonomic nervous system (e.g., changes in heart rate, respiration rate, adrenaline in the blood).
3 Although the subjects in the "inherent aptitude" condition were deceived, they were fully debriefed, told of the difficult nature of the task and assured that it did not indicate "aptitudes."
4 In clinical psychology, these strategies are referred to as participant modeling or performance desensitization.
Can such techniques as sleep learning and hypnosis improve performance? Do we sometimes confuse familiarity with mastery? Can we learn without making mistakes? These questions apply in the classroom, in the military, and on the assembly line.
Learning, Remembering, Believing addresses these and other key issues in learning and performance. The volume presents leading-edge theories and findings from a wide range of research settings: from pilots learning to fly to children learning about physics by throwing beanbags. Common folklore is explored, and promising research directions are identified. The authors also continue themes from their first two volumes: Enhancing Human Performance (1988) and In the Mind's Eye (1991).
The result is a thorough and readable review of:
- Learning and remembering. The volume evaluates the effects of subjective experience on learning—why we often overestimate what we know, why we may not need a close match between training settings and real-world tasks, and why we experience such phenomena as illusory remembering and unconscious plagiarism.
- Learning and performing in teams. The authors discuss cooperative learning in different age groups and contexts. Current views on team performance are presented, including how team-learning processes can be improved and whether team-building interventions are effective.
- Mental and emotional states. This is a critical review of the evidence that learning is affected by state of mind. Topics include hypnosis, meditation, sleep learning, restricted environmental stimulation, and self-confidence and the self-efficacy theory of learning.
- New directions. The volume looks at two new ideas for improving performance: emotions induced by another person—socially induced affect—and strategies for controlling one's thoughts. The committee also considers factors inherent in organizations—workplaces, educational facilities, and the military—that affect whether and how they implement training programs.
Learning, Remembering, Believing offers an understanding of human learning that will be useful to training specialists, psychologists, educators, managers, and individuals interested in all dimensions of human performance.
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- Essay On Self Confidence
Self Confidence Essay
500 words self confidence essay.
Self-confidence is essential in achieving goals and success in your life. A person needs to have self-confidence to achieve success. Self-confidence is something that comes from within. It helps people think freely without any negativity and focus on their goals. A self-confident person has fewer chances of failure. People cannot achieve their goals without self-confidence because they are optimistic, eager, and positive by nature. It is also vital in leading a healthy and happy life. This Essay on Self Confidencewill help students know the importance of self confidence and boost their confidence.
Knowledge is the key to self-confidence. It helps you to understand your capabilities. The power of knowledge can be used to protect yourself from failure. If knowledgeable people surround you, they will support you and even advise you with good ideas and suggestions.
Definition of Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is a term defined to explain people’s state of mind that makes them push boundaries and encourages them to believe in themselves. Self-confidence has the power to motivate people to do things that seemed to be impossible for them. A self-confident person possesses an attitude that nothing is impossible, and they accomplish everything in life. It is important to have strong self-confidence, to avoid failure in life.
The concept of self-confidence is divided into three levels; self-confidence based on feeling, self-confidence based on belief and self-confidence based on knowledge. These three levels are used in different combinations, and a person who lacks these three levels would typically be less confident.
Self-confidence helps a person improve their career, as it is simple for them to follow the rules and regulations of their job. It helps them to achieve success in their life. It also helps to strengthen relationships and work on leadership and communication skills. Overall, we can say that self-confidence is necessary to become independent in life.
The Key to Success
It won’t be wrong to say that self-confidence is the key to success or the initial step towards success. People in workplaces and schools achieve success when they voluntarily take the initiative and come forward actively in life. They even participate actively in the decision-making process, as they feel confident in themselves. If a person is self-confident about himself, he has won half the battle.
People will notice you when you make yourself unique and stand apart from the crowd. Thus, it helps in attaining success in life. A person should believe in himself to gain self-confidence. Self-confidence is necessary if you want to move forward in your career, too. Success comes with lots of perks. For example, you can find your desired job efficiently.
People with less self-confidence are scared of getting criticised and exposed to failure. So, you should work on your self-confidence to get back on your feet and succeed in life.
Importance of Self Confidence
A person with self-confidence can face any kind of challenge in life. They are not scared of hurdles because they are confident that they can handle any situation. On the other hand, some people are afraid of failure, making them under-confident. A person who lacks self-confidence will get scared and leave the task midway.
Self-confidence is considered the first step towards success. In today’s society, people who lack confidence are looked down upon. They are always neglected and left behind in the race of life.
However, many people are famous because of their extraordinary achievements. Success cannot be achieved overnight. It is a long process of hard work, patience and passion towards your desired field.
Conclusion of the Essay on Self Confidence
To live a successful and healthy life, self-confidence is an essential trait. For people who keep themselves calm and compose, everything seems more straightforward. People face challenges at some point, but they remain confident enough to trust their abilities and work accordingly.
A person gains self-confidence with their own experience. No one can bring changes overnight, nor can they be obtained from others. It is a slow and constant process, and we all should participate in it. It takes time, but once you achieve it, nothing can stop you from conquering every height in life. So, to hype up your confidence, always give yourself a pep talk.
From our BYJU’S website, students can also access CBSE Essays related to different topics. It will help students to get good marks in their exams.
Frequently Asked Questions on Self confidence Essay
How to build self-confidence.
One can build self-confidence by setting achievable goals, thinking positively and through constant practice and hard work.
Why is self-confidence important?
Self-confidence helps us to move freely with other people and also improves our communication in the workplace.
How does self-confidence affect success?
People who are confident automatically spread an aura and are more likely to get hikes and promotions.
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6 Proven Ways to Build Confidence
1. stop comparing yourself to others..
Posted May 30, 2023 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
- Cultivating Confidence
- Find a Self Esteem Therapist
- Boosting self-confidence makes us more successful, improves our health, and increases our happiness.
- It is impossible to be confident when you feel you have no control over how others treat you.
- When you talk down to yourself, you hold yourself back and decrease your confidence.
It takes confidence to introduce yourself to new people at an event, apply for a promotion, or go to the gym for the first time. But you don't have to wait until you feel completely confident to do those things. Instead, you can take steps to build confidence, and doing so can improve your life.
Confidence is a key component in growing mentally stronger. Boosting self-confidence makes us more successful, improves our health, and increases our happiness . Fortunately, several strategies can help you start feeling more confident.
Strategies to Feel More Confident
1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Whether checking out the "perfect" bodies on Instagram or comparing salaries with friends, we all compare ourselves to others at one time or another.
But measuring yourself against other people erodes self-confidence fast. Research shows that the more envy people experience when they make comparisons, the worse they feel about themselves.
Pay attention to when you start thinking other people are either above you or below you in some way.
Instead of viewing them as your competitors, consider them opinion-holders. Someone who looks like they are doing well might have information, skills, or resources you could learn from. Make it your goal to become better than you were yesterday, not better than someone else.
2. Create boundaries . It’s impossible to be confident when you feel like you have no control over how others treat you. When you establish healthy boundaries, however, you’ll see that you’re in charge of determining what behaviors you’ll tolerate and which you won’t.
Creating boundaries for ourselves can aid in feeling more in control and thus improve psychological safety. It's really part of feeling confident, knowing that you're in charge of your life.
Say no to things you don’t want to do. Speak up when someone crosses the line. And make your expectations clear.
3. Take care of your body. Feeling good about yourself is hard when you're not treating your body properly. When you prioritize self-care, you do something great for your body, mind, and spirit.
Eating healthy, exercising, meditating, and getting plenty of sleep are all keys to helping you feel your best. Just adding in a few extra walks every week and making some healthier food choices could bolster your confidence.
4. Spend time with positive people. The people around you greatly impact how you feel about yourself. If judgmental or critical people surround you, it’ll take a toll on your mental strength. If, however, you’re interacting with people who can cheer others on and support one another, you’ll feel much better.
Unfortunately, researchers have found that people with low self-esteem tend to befriend people who put them down. If you feel bad about yourself, you might spend time with others who put you down because you’re used to hearing bad things about yourself.
If you feel awful about yourself, hearing others say nice things about you can be uncomfortable. So you might go with what feels familiar–put-downs and negativity.
So pay close attention to the people you choose to surround yourself with, and don’t be afraid to reduce or eliminate your contact with some people. Focus on creating healthier relationships with the positive people in your life. Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, it gets easier over time, and hearing good things about yourself might shift how you talk to yourself too.
5. Reframe your negative self-talk . When you talk down to yourself, you hold yourself back and decrease your confidence. Your subconscious buys into the idea that certain things are “too hard” or “you can’t handle it.” Flip the script with a little kind self-talk to overcome self-doubt and take on new challenges. For instance:
- Instead of “I can’t handle this,” try “I can do this.”
- Rather than “I can’t do anything right,” go for “I can do better next time.”
- Replace “I hate public speaking ” with something like “I don’t love public speaking, but everyone has strengths and weaknesses.”
6. Act as if you feel confident. No one gains confidence by sitting around the house doing nothing. Sometimes, the best way to change your feelings is to change your behavior first.
Ask yourself what you’d be doing if you felt confident. Would you enroll in classes? Move to a new city? Talk to more people? Do those things now.
When you walk into a room, act like you feel confident doing it. Even small changes, like a slight shift in your posture, can make a huge difference.
You may need to experiment with various strategies to figure out what works best for you as you grow mentally stronger and more confident.
If you’re really struggling with confidence, consider getting professional help. Talking to a therapist might help you discover strategies and skills that help you become the best version of yourself.
To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory .
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Perry P. Concept analysis: Confidence/self-confidence . Nurs Forum. 2011;46(4):218-30. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.00230.x
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Importance of Self-confidence in Life
- Categories: Confidence
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Words: 661 |
Published: Mar 14, 2019
Words: 661 | Page: 1 | 4 min read
- Archibald, R., & Feldman, D. (2006). Graduation Rates and Accountability: Regressional Discontinuity Estimates of the Impact of Merit Aid on College Persistence. Journal of Human Resources, 41(4), 669-700.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment. U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
- College Board. (2021). Trends in College Pricing 2021. https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-2021-full-report.pdf
- Deil-Amen, R., & Rosenbaum, J. E. (2003). The unintended consequences of merit aid: The impact on college access and choice. Journal of Higher Education, 74(4), 365-391.
- Deming, D. J., Goldin, C., & Katz, L. F. (2012). The value of postsecondary credentials in the labor market: An educational perspective. American Economic Review, 102(4), 463-468.
- Federal Student Aid. (n.d.). FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. U.S. Department of Education. https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
- Finnie, R., & Mueller, R. E. (2019). The financial returns from post-secondary education: A literature review. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49(1), 22-44.
- Hout, M. (2012). Social and economic returns to college education in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology, 38, 379-400.
- Jackson, C. K., Johnson, R. C., & Persico, C. (2016). The effects of school spending on educational and economic outcomes: Evidence from school finance reforms. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 131(1), 157-218.
- Perna, L. W. (2010). Understanding the working college student. ASHE Higher Education Report, 35(3), 1-131.
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Essay on Self Confidence (200 & 500 Words)
Self-confidence is believing in one’s own abilities, talents and judgment. It comes from a place of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-esteem. Self-confident people trust their own skills and capabilities. They are willing to take risks, learn from failure and view challenges as opportunities to grow. Self-confidence allows people to present themselves authentically without fear of rejection. It enables the setting of high personal standards and pursuing of goals with persistence. Self-confidence is not arrogance, but a quiet inner knowledge of self-worth and competence. It empowers people to fully realize their potential, have conviction in their views and live their lives boldly. Developing self-confidence requires eliminating negative self-talk, overcoming insecurities and building a mindset of resilience. With solid self-confidence, people gain the power to follow their dreams and live the lives they desire.
Essay on Self Confidence (200 Words)
Self confidence means believing in yourself and your abilities. It means not doubting yourself and your capacity to achieve your goals. Self confidence is very important to succeed in all aspects of life.
People with self confidence have a positive attitude and strong self-esteem. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They are willing to take risks and try new things. They view failures and setbacks as learning experiences. Confident people are able to bounce back from challenges.
Having self confidence also allows you to appreciate others talents. Confident people don’t feel threatened by other people’s skills. They have good social skills and can handle situations well. They do not need approval from others.
To build self confidence, it is important to step out of your comfort zone. Do not fear failure or worry about what others think. Identify your positive qualities and remind yourself of your accomplishments. Develop new skills by taking on challenges. Maintain good health and fitness as it also boosts confidence. Keep trying and never give up on yourself.
Self confidence empowers you to climb your mountain, overcome hurdles and achieve your goals. If you believe in yourself, you can inspire that belief in others too. Your attitude and self belief are your wings – with them you can soar high and make all your dreams a reality!
Essay on Self Confidence (500 Words)
Introduction to self confidence.
Self confidence is one of the most important qualities a person can possess. It is the belief that you can accomplish any task and face any challenge that comes your way. Self confident people trust their own abilities and decisions. They are not afraid to express their opinions openly or try something new. Developing self confidence early in life prepares students for success academically as well as in their careers and relationships.
Understanding Self Confidence
Self confidence comes from within and cannot be instilled by others. It develops gradually through positive experiences and comparing oneself realistically to others. Self confident people have a healthy amount of self esteem that is neither too high nor too low. They understand their strengths and accept their weaknesses or flaws as being normal. Confident individuals are willing to take constructive feedback without getting offended. They view failures and setbacks as learning opportunities to improve rather than feel defeated.
Importance of Self Confidence
The benefits of being self confident are enormous. Confident people can voice their perspectives and don’t always follow the crowd. They take initiative and grab opportunities that help them grow. Confidence allows people to develop independence and good social skills. It enables them to build strong relationships and inspire others. Self confident people don’t stoop down to unhealthy competition with others. Most importantly, their belief in themselves motivates them to turn challenges into triumphs.
Building Self Confidence
Self confidence must be built brick by brick through practical efforts. Identifying your positive qualities and reminding yourself of accomplishments helps reinforce confidence. Stepping out of your comfort zone to acquire new skills also boosts self belief. Eating healthy, exercising and getting enough rest are vital to keep energy and mood levels high. Being prepared thoroughly for tasks prevents self doubt and nervousness. Keeping failures in perspective as learning curves rather than setbacks prevents confidence from declining at times of adversity.
Conclusion on Gaining Self Confidence
Self confidence is a very desirable trait that is essential for students to nurture. With strong belief in oneself, no mountain is too high to climb. Self confidence combined with discipline and perseverance becomes the key to success. Always remember – your confidence is your powerhouse. Keep it fueled and let nothing stop you from manifesting your boldest dreams into reality!
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Essay on Self Confidence
Being positive is a key component that can help you to achieve success in life. When you have a positive outlook on life, it can help you to set and achieve goals, while also giving you the confidence to overcome any obstacles that come your way. Being confident allows you to recognize your own potential and take risks, while also helping you to remain resilient in the face of adversity.
With a positive attitude and confidence, you can set yourself up for success in any endeavor. Therefore, we will discuss here about self confidence in detail and know about the key to success.
Short and Long Self Confidence Essay in English
Here, we are presenting long and short essays on Self Confidence in English for students under word limits of 100 – 150 Words, 200 – 250 words, and 500 – 600 words. This topic is useful for students of classes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 in English. These provided essays on Self Confidence will help you to write effective essays, paragraphs, and speeches on this topic.
Self Confidence Essay 10 Lines (100 – 150 Words)
1) Self-confidence is when we believe in our abilities, talents, and strengths.
2) Self Confidence helps us believing in ourselves and our abilities.
3) Self Confidence pushes us to reach our goals.
4) Self Confidence helps us to focus on successes instead of dwelling on your mistakes.
5) Self-confidence allows us to take risks and try new things even if they make us feel uncomfortable.
6) Self Confidence allows us to celebrate our accomplishments, no matter how small.
7) If we will be self-confident, it helps us believing that we are worthy of being happy and successful.
8) With self-confidence, we can focus on the present and take action to make our dreams come true.
9) To be self-confident everytime, we must make our surrounding positive everytime.
10) Self-confidence is the key to achieve whatever we want in our life.
Short Essay on Self Confidence (250 – 300 Words)
Self-confidence is the belief in one’s ability to succeed and make decisions. It plays a huge role in how a person feels about their life, which then influences their behavior, attitude, and performance. Having self-confidence is important for succeeding in many areas of life including relationships, work, and overall happiness.
The Benefits of Self-Confidence
Having self-confidence can help an individual to make better decisions, increase their self-esteem, set clearer goals, and ultimately achieve more in life. People who have more self-confidence are often more likely to take risks, be creative, and try new things, helping them to learn more and gain new experiences.
Self-confidence can be improved by being aware of one’s own strengths and setting achievable goals. One should be realistic when it comes to setting goals and figure out how to achieve them in a step by step manner. Additionally, challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to gain new experiences and improve your overall confidence.
Having positive self-talk and thinking positively can help with self-confidence. Having a positive attitude and focusing on the good in each situation can help improve the outlook on life and increase one’s self-confidence.
Self-confidence is an important tool to have in life and can help an individual to be more successful, feel happier, and open themselves up to new experiences. Developing self-confidence can be done with positive thinking, setting achievable goals, and recognizing one’s strengths. Ultimately, self-confidence will make life more enjoyable.
Long Essay on Self Confidence (500 Words)
Self-confidence is the foundation for a successful and meaningful life. It is the ability to trust in your judgement, have faith in yourself and be resilient in the face of adversity. Having a healthy level of self-confidence can open us up to possibilities and give us the courage to take on life’s challenges. It can motivate us to take risks and create opportunities for ourselves. On the other hand, a lack of self-confidence can limit us and prevent us from reaching our full potential. It’s important to recognize the importance of self-confidence and to be aware of how to build and maintain it.
What Is Self Confidence?
Self-confidence can be defined as the “belief in oneself and one’s abilities”. It is the ability to have faith in yourself and a willingness to take risks. It is the capacity to believe that you can handle any challenge or difficult situation that is presented to you. Having a healthy amount of self-confidence can help one to be courageous and take risks that might lead to success.
Signs of Low Self-Confidence
Low self confidence is a lack of faith in one’s own abilities and qualities. People with low self confidence often find it difficult to take risks and can feel inadequate in certain situations. This can lead to feelings of insecurity, depression, and a lack of social support.
A lack of self-confidence can manifest itself in various ways. Here are some common signs of low self-confidence:
• Unrealistic or negative self-talk
• Fear of failure
• Difficulty making decisions
• Low self-esteem
• Needing validation from others
• Avoiding challenges
• Seeking approval from others
• Feeling overwhelmed by tasks
Building self confidence involves having an optimistic outlook, challenging negative thoughts, setting achievable goals, and celebrating successes. It is an important process which can help to bring more positivity and success into life. It is possible to build and maintain a healthy amount of self-confidence. Here are some tips to help you develop and maintain self-confidence:
• Identify/work on weaknesses: Identify areas that you need to work on and take steps to improve yourself.
• Monitor your self-talk: Pay attention to your inner self-talk and challenge any negative thoughts that come up.
• Take risks: Don’t be afraid of taking risks and exploring new opportunities.
• Set goals and challenges: Set realistic goals and challenges for yourself and work to achieve them.
• Face your fears: Don’t be afraid of challenges and work to overcome your fears.
• Focus on your strengths: Pay attention to and develop your strengths, and use them to achieve goals.
Self-confidence is an important part of life and can help you reach your goals and create meaningful relationships. It is important to recognize the signs of low self-confidence and to take steps to build and maintain a healthy amount of self-confidence in order to reach your potential. There are many resources available to help you build your self-confidence and find the courage to take on life’s challenges.
I hope the above-provided essay on Self Confidence will be helpful to you in understanding the role and importance of confidence in the journey of success or in our entire life.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about Self Confidence
Ans. Developing a positive attitude involves reframing your thoughts to look for the good in every situation, practicing gratitude, and setting achievable goals.
Ans. Having too much self-confidence can lead to arrogance and an inability to accept criticism or feedback.
Ans. Maintaining self-confidence requires regular self-care, setting realistic goals, and being mindful of your thoughts and emotions.
Ans. Set yourself realistic and attainable goals, break them down into manageable steps, and reward yourself for your accomplishments.
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Essay on Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is an attitude that wavers between thinking highly of oneself and thinking little of oneself. One who exhibits self-confidence may not necessarily think they are exceptionally skilled in a particular field or activity, but they typically hold the belief that their abilities are enough to help them achieve their goals. Self-confidence is a prerequisite for success in the world. People who lack self-confidence are never going to strive for their own goals or take risks. Self-confidence has to be developed. A person who is confident does not have to prove anything to anybody. A person must believe that they are great.
Self-confidence is the ability of being able to be happy with oneself regardless in what situation you are in. For example, if a person thinks that they don’t deserve something, they will never be able to be happy with themselves. When a person has self-confidence, they know that what they are doing is right and let their actions guide them along the right path in life.
The key to self-confidence is knowledge. Knowledge will help you know what you are capable of. Knowledge can be used to protect yourself from failure where self-confidence cannot and while knowledge does not take away your fault, knowledge can also help you with your faults. As long as the people around you have more knowledge than you do, they can either support you or point out what is wrong with your ideas without offending or hurting them in any way.
Any person can become self-confident but it would take time and effort. It is not possible to learn self-confidence in a day. You have to understand your faults and try to live with them if that is the case. Use knowledge to guide yourself along the path of life and you will be well on your way to being a self-confident individual who knows what they are capable of.
Self-confidence is one of the strongest forces on earth, it has the power to make people do things they never thought possible before, or take risks that could mean life or death. Individuals who are confident possess the attitude that nothing is impossible, and can accomplish anything they put their mind to. Most people have a fear of failure, which is why self-confidence is so important in life.
When a person lacks confidence, they never take any risks or explore possibilities, and instead always stick with what has worked in the past. In today’s society anyone can be successful regardless of their social class of background but it takes time and determination to be successful, which is why self-confidence plays such a big role in success. It is however a lot easier to be successful if one does have some self-confidence.
Self-confidence can be divided into three levels; confidence based on knowledge, self-confidence based on feeling and self-confidence based on belief. These three levels are able to be used in different combinations; for example, a person may possess all three levels of confidence or only one. A person who lacks any of these three levels will not be confident, this is because they don’t know what they are capable of and they feel like they are inferior to others.
Most people don’t possess the level of self-confidence based on belief and this is where they lack. They are almost always doubting themselves, and feel like they are not good enough to be able to accomplish anything. Without self-confidence based on belief it is impossible to accomplish anything in life because a person lacking this level of confidence will always fail before they even try. The people who do have this type of confidence will always try to become better in everything they do. They desire change and are able to find the courage within themselves to believe that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
Self-confidence improves relationships, it provides stronger leadership skills, and better communication skills. A person who has more confidence also has better life habits like eating right and getting exercise. Self-confidence also improves one’s career, as they are more likely to follow the rules and regulations of their job which helps them be successful in their field. Overall self-confidence is an important trait to have because self-confidence allows people to become independent from others’ opinions of them.
People Have Low Self-Confidence because of something happened in their past that has caused them to feel insecure about themselves. Most people have gone through an experience in their lives where they became fearful of rejection and failure. This in turn caused feelings of insecurity and low self-confidence because they were afraid of becoming imperfect or not being able to reach any goals or dreams without feeling the fear of rejection once again.
The perfect example is when a person wakes up in the morning and looks at themselves in the mirror, feeling like there is something wrong with their outer appearance because they see things that are not perfect on them. This causes the person to feel insecure about themselves and they start to wonder if they will ever be able to get better at anything in their life.
When individuals go through times of low self-confidence or insecurity, it is best for them to not try and fix what happened in the past that caused them into this state of mind and instead focus on learning from it and gaining control over their fears so that they can overcome them. This is what everyone goes through during their lives.
Self-confidence can be built up by seeing successes in one’s life and having the belief that they are capable of being successful, regardless of what others think. Another way that self-confidence can be built up is by having self-confidence from within and believing in themselves. This form of self-confidence is based on knowledge and experience. People with this type of confidence are more likely to believe that there is a method to how things work, and are less likely to base their decisions off thinking what others think or going off of stereotypes.
One way people might try to bolster their self-confidence is by finding a mentor. This is where a person with a higher self-esteem helps someone who doesn’t have as high of one to feel confident in their own abilities, and also gives them guidance on how to become successful. This method is very effective and has helped many people realize that they are capable of much more than they originally thought.
When trying to build up a sense of confidence in yourself you must first overcome your fears. Everyone has fears, but the first step to overcoming this fear is recognizing what it is that you are afraid of and why you are afraid; then try to conquer these fears in small steps until they become easier.
So, in conclusion having a sense of self-confidence is a very important part in becoming successful. It is also something that one can easily acquire by thinking positively, gaining knowledge and experience, and above all believing in oneself.
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What I Believe as a Historian of Genocide
By Omer Bartov
Mr. Bartov is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University.
Israeli military operations have created an untenable humanitarian crisis, which will only worsen over time. But are Israel’s actions — as the nation’s opponents argue — verging on ethnic cleansing or, most explosively, genocide?
As a historian of genocide, I believe that there is no proof that genocide is currently taking place in Gaza, although it is very likely that war crimes, and even crimes against humanity, are happening. That means two important things: First, we need to define what it is that we are seeing, and second, we have the chance to stop the situation before it gets worse. We know from history that it is crucial to warn of the potential for genocide before it occurs, rather than belatedly condemn it after it has taken place. I think we still have that time.
It is clear that the daily violence being unleashed on Gaza is both unbearable and untenable. Since the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas — itself a war crime and a crime against humanity — Israel’s military air and ground assault on Gaza has killed more than 10,500 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, a number that includes thousands of children. That’s well over five times as many people as the more than 1,400 people in Israel murdered by Hamas. In justifying the assault, Israeli leaders and generals have made terrifying pronouncements that indicate a genocidal intent.
Still, the collective horror of what we are watching does not mean that a genocide, according to the international legal definition of the term, is already underway. Because genocide, sometimes called “ the crime of all crimes ,” is perceived by many to be the most extreme of all crimes, there is often an impulse to describe any instance of mass murder and massacre as genocide. But this urge to label all atrocious events as genocide tends to obfuscate reality rather than explain it.
International humanitarian law identifies several grave crimes in armed conflict. War crimes are defined in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and subsequent protocols as serious violations of the laws and customs of war in international armed conflict against both combatants and civilians. The Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, defines crimes against humanity as extermination of, or other mass crimes against, any civilian population. The crime of genocide was defined in 1948 by the United Nations as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”
So in order to prove that genocide is taking place, we need to show both that there is the intent to destroy and that destructive action is taking place against a particular group. Genocide as a legal concept differs from ethnic cleansing in that the latter, which has not been recognized as its own crime under international law, aims to remove a population from a territory, often violently, whereas genocide aims at destroying that population wherever it is. In reality, any of these situations — and especially ethnic cleansing — may escalate into genocide, as happened in the Holocaust, which began with an intention to remove the Jews from German-controlled territories and transformed into the intention of their physical extermination.
My greatest concern watching the Israel-Gaza war unfold is that there is genocidal intent, which can easily tip into genocidal action. On Oct. 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Gazans would pay a “ huge price ” for the actions of Hamas and that the Israel Defense Forces, or I.D.F., would turn parts of Gaza’s densely populated urban centers “ into rubble .” On Oct. 28, he added , citing Deuteronomy, “You must remember what Amalek did to you.” As many Israelis know, in revenge for the attack by Amalek, the Bible calls to “kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings.”
The deeply alarming language does not end there. On Oct. 9, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said , “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” a statement indicating dehumanization, which has genocidal echoes. The next day, the head of the Israeli Army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, addressed the population of Gaza in Arabic: “Human animals must be treated as such,” he said , adding: “There will be no electricity and no water. There will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell.”
The same day, retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland wrote in the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “The State of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in.” He added, “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieving the goal.” In another article , he wrote that “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” Apparently, no army representative or politician denounced this statement.
I could quote many more.
Taken together, these statements could easily be construed as indicating a genocidal intent. But is genocide actually occurring? Israeli military commanders insist that they are trying to limit civilian casualties, and they attribute the large numbers of dead and wounded Palestinians to Hamas tactics of using civilians as human shields and placing their command centers under humanitarian structures like hospitals .
But on Oct. 13, the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence reportedly issued a proposal to move the entire population of the Gaza Strip to the Egyptian-ruled Sinai Peninsula (Mr. Netanyahu’s office said it was a “concept paper”). Extreme right-wing elements in the government — also represented in the I.D.F. — celebrate the war as an opportunity to be rid of Palestinians altogether. This month, a videotape emerged on social media of Capt. Amichai Friedman, a rabbi in the Nahal Brigade, saying to a group of soldiers that it was now clear that “this land is ours, the whole land, including Gaza, including Lebanon.” The troops cheered enthusiastically; the military said that his conduct “does not align” with its values and directives.
And so, while we cannot say that the military is explicitly targeting Palestinian civilians, functionally and rhetorically we may be watching an ethnic cleansing operation that could quickly devolve into genocide, as has happened more than once in the past.
None of this happened in a vacuum. Over the past several months I have agonized greatly over the unfolding of events in Israel. On Aug. 4, several colleagues and I circulated a petition warning that the attempted judicial coup by the Netanyahu government was intended to perpetuate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It was signed by close to 2,500 scholars, clergy members and public figures who were disgusted with the racist rhetoric of members of the government, its anti-democratic efforts and the growing violence by settlers, seemingly supported by the I.D.F., against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
What we had warned about — that it would be impossible to ignore the occupation and oppression of millions for 56 years, and the siege of Gaza for 16 years, without consequences — exploded in our faces on Oct. 7. Following Hamas’s massacre of innocent Jewish civilians, our same group issued a second petition denouncing the crimes committed by Hamas and calling upon the Israeli government to desist from perpetrating mass violence and killings upon innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza in response to the crisis. We wrote that the only way to put an end to these cycles of violence is to seek a political compromise with the Palestinians and end the occupation.
It is time for leaders and senior scholars of institutions dedicated to researching and commemorating the Holocaust to publicly warn against the rage- and vengeance-filled rhetoric that dehumanizes the population of Gaza and calls for its extinction. It is time to speak out against the escalating violence on the West Bank, perpetrated by Israeli settlers and I.D.F. troops, which now appears to also be sliding toward ethnic cleansing under the cover of war in Gaza; several Palestinian villages have reportedly self-evacuated under threats from settlers .
I urge such venerable institutions as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to step in now and stand at the forefront of those warning against war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and the crime of all crimes, genocide.
If we truly believe that the Holocaust taught us a lesson about the need — or really, the duty — to preserve our own humanity and dignity by protecting those of others, this is the time to stand up and raise our voices, before Israel’s leadership plunges it and its neighbors into the abyss.
There is still time to stop Israel from letting its actions become a genocide. We cannot wait a moment longer.
Omer Bartov is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University.
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