Self-Efficacy's Affects On Performance And Strategy

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Although self-efficacy has always been considered a motivational construct, this theoretical proposition has never been experimentally assessed. In light of new arguments in favor of Control Theory?s motivational influence on performance and against Social Cognitive Theory?s motivational influence on performance, study one of the current paper manipulates both self-efficacy and task type in order to experimentally reproduce the findings of both viewpoints. Study one also shows results of a motivational theory affecting performance. This supports Social Cognitive Theory and goes against premises of Control Theory. 252 undergraduates completed either a skill task or an effort task in either a high self-efficacy or low self-efficacy condition. Analysis was done at the between-person level and at the within-person level controlling for past performance. It is shown that when someone performs better than expected on an effort task they perform better on a secondary similar task. Findings of Control Theory are also replicated and shown to be due to an artifact of self-efficacy measurement, not motivational effects. Study two of the current paper investigates how people mentally categorize their confidences in search and processing information. It also investigates how these divisions influence the strategies used in confronting information through the use of traditional judgmental heuristics. It was hypothesized (Wood, Atkins, and Tabernero, 2000) that search self-efficacy would break down into four components based on search modality and that processing self-efficacy would break down into three components based on task characteristics. It was also hypothesized that increased search self-efficacy would decrease use of the availability heuristic and increased processing self-efficacy would decrease use of the representativeness and anchoring and adjustment heuristics. However, these hypotheses are contrary to the expertise literature. Study two was conducted in two phases. In phase one 535 undergraduates completed a 138 question preliminary search and processing self-efficacy questionnaire. 47 of these questions weighted significantly into six components. These components broke down into personal and interpersonal search self-efficacy; and logical, verbal, spatial, and interpersonal processing self-efficacy. Therefore search and processing categorization hypotheses were supported, but sub-categorization hypotheses were not. In phases two, 173 students completed the 47 questions as well as some questions measuring the use of traditional judgmental heuristics. Support for the expertise literature was found.
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