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Social Cognitive Theory and Self-Efficacy

The socialization of people in the modern world led to the impossibility of the existence of any group of people, organizations, and other institutions without communication. The effectiveness of health risk communication in the organization may be evaluated by means of social cognitive theory and self-efficacy, which are going to be discussed. The exposure, knowledge, and behavioral intent are going to be the targets of the analysis while investigating social cognitive theory and self-efficacy for understanding health risk communication in the organization. Social cognitive theory and self-efficacy are the theories, which make it possible for scientists to evaluate the level of people’s education, investigate their behavior, and consider it from the point of view of their communication.

Alexander and Winne (2006) state that social cognitive theory is the theory that investigates people’s functioning in terms of their own success, in other words, people’s desires, thinking and other intentions are one of the main predetermines of their success or failure in future. To start with, the problems of social cognitive theory have been investigated by lots of scientists, such as Miller, Dollard, and Rotter, but the biggest contribution in the development of the social cognitive theory was provided by Bandura. The research studies on observational learning were the first steps of Bandura on the way to developing and evaluating the social cognitive theory of human behavior. Providing some investigations and other methods in theory development, it was concluded that “competence perceptions and control beliefs are integral components of the theory”, as pointed in Alexander and Winne (2006, p. 356).

Alexander and Winne also underline that human behavior is discussed by Bandura from the point of view of the following issues: people’s thoughts and ideas are affected by the environment that, in its turn, affects people’s behavior. They also point out that looking at the problem from the social cognitive theory side, people’s thoughts and ideas may affect the environment and change it according to their will. Bandra’s theory is structured from the fact that “in the model of reciprocal causation, people are both producers and receivers of environmental influence” (Alexander & Winne, 2006, p. 356). Believing to social cognitive theory, people are eager to change their environment, situation, and even lives, by controlling what happens in the world by means of “planning, organizing and self-regulations” (Alexander & Winne, 2006, p. 356). In other words, people are both producers and the receiver of the surrounding situation and environment at one and the same time.

Social cognitive theory may be explained in such a way, that, according to MacArthur, Graham, and Fitzgerald (2008), one of the main successes of people’s communication is their inner attitude to this communication; people’s beliefs in his/her power, the assurance in the good outcome of any business, the thoughts about good result all this is one of the main reasons, which predetermine people’s success (p.159). The social cognitive theory explains one of the main reasons why people are successful, why they are eager to provide communication in the organization on the high level, and why they should be sure in the business they provide or words they tell, like MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) identify.

Analyzing the cause and effect of social cognitive theory by MacArthur, Graham, and Fitzgerald (2008), it was concluded that one of the main components of the discussed theory is self-efficacy, as it is self-efficacy that makes people believe in their power and abilities. Referencing to Bandura, Patricia A. Alexandra and Philip H. Winne (2008) strengthen that “the central variable representing competence beliefs is self-efficacy, defined as people’s beliefs about their capabilities to learn or perform actions at desired levels” (p.356). MacArthur, Graham, and Fitzgerald (2008) consider self-efficacy beliefs as rather strong stimuli or a powerful holder back, in the cases, when person is either sure in the successful result of the business or is unsure in it and any notion is tried to be found, which would confirm this idea.

Referring the self efficacy to any organization, MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) stressed that success of any affair depends on people’s desire, the assurance in the outcome and the belief in people’s capacity to provide actions, to possess the necessary knowledge and be sure that all will be correct. The social cognitive theory, in MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008), explains the connection of people’s behavior with inner conditions, the knowledge of people’s behavior and how this knowledge and assurance may influence either success or failure of business; the other useful quality of self efficacy is that its level helps people to consider the amount of power, which should be spend on the affair, the time and the possibility of obstacles overcoming, as all these things depend on people’s level of self efficacy, if to consider it from the social cognitive theory.

MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) add that self efficacy influences not just the outcome of the affair, whether it is successful or not, but also influences the emotional condition. In fact, those with the low level of self efficacy are sure in the bad quality of their work, of their individual knowledge and may never reach success while those who are sure in themselves are also sure to succeed in the affair. The self efficacy is one of the main predetermines and the identifiers of people’s level of assurance, which from the point of view of the social cognitive theory may guess or predict the outcome, as MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) believe.

MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) believe that social cognitive theory is rather helpful in healthy communication in the organization, as the assurance of some workers may transfer their assurance on others and success of the affair will never be questioned, as, according to the social cognitive theory, people’s favorable attitude to the affair is the half proof in success of this affair. Healthy communication in the organization is useful, as some problems in belief of one person may be easily ruined by the other and the situation may be changed by other people that will affect the hesitated employees and change their attitude to favorable, as MacArthur, Graham and Fitzgerald (2008) understand it.

In conclusion, social cognitive theory explains how people’s behavior is influenced by the surrounding situation and, vice versa, how people’s inner condition and assurance in the successful outcome may influence the situation. Bandura, one of the investigators of the social cognitive theory, is sure that the high level of the self efficacy belief, the power of imagination, when person is sure in the success of the actions may really lead to the success of the business or other affair and make the surrounding situation be such as it is wanted. One of the main components of the social cognitive theory is this very self efficacy as people’s behavior should be based on this notion, the strong belief in the success and only in this case the success will be reached, without referencing on other out help.


Alexander, P. A. & Winne, P. H. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology. Routledge, London.

MacArthur, C. A., Graham, S., & Fitzgerald, J. (2008). Handbook of Writing Research. Guilford Press, New York.


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