Cultural Differences in Self-Efficacy

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Cultural Differences in Self-Efficacy

Introduction
Bandura (1997) defined self-efficacy as “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to produce given attainments” (p. 3). Self-efficacy refers to the judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses rather than the judgments of the skills themselves. In self-efficacy theory, people evaluate their skills and abilities and convert their beliefs about their capabilities into purposive action (Bandura, 1997). As people enact their self-efficacy beliefs, they demonstrate a degree of control over (a) the activities they choose to pursue, (b) the persistence they display in the pursuit of goals, and (c) their reactions to challenges and failures (Bandura, 1997). In academic settings, specific skills are needed to master difficult tasks, and important factors like educational opportunities, quality of teaching, and learning ability influence student success. Thus, enhancing self-efficacy is important way to help students achieve positive academic outcomes. Although considerable research has been devoted to the study of self-efficacy in educational settings, most of the students under study were from Western cultures and were usually in American settings (Klassen, 2004). Therefore, culturally attentive studies are necessary to investigate students’ self-efficacy in a range of social and cultural settings. We cannot assume that self-efficacy functions in the same way with all Asian students or with any other ethnic group of students because they have different culture from Western countries. Different perspectives on the self-enhancement motive were proposed across cultures. According to the cultural-self perspective, the motive is pervasive in individualistic cultures (the West) but absent in collectivistic cultures (the East) (Kitayama, Markus, Matsumoto, & Norasakkunkit, 1997). Kitayama et al. (1997) found that American people are relatively likely to engage in self-enhancement while Japanese people are relatively likely to engage in self-criticism. Xie, Roy and Chen (1996) also reported similar results with Chinese people. They demonstrate that individuals with a more individualistic cultural orientation exhibit greater leniency in self-rating than those with a more collectivistic cultural orientation. Such findings in cross cultural studies challenged the universality of the self-enhancement motive (Heine, Lehman, Markus & Kitayama, 1999). When considering the self-enhancement motive directly influence on self-efficacy (DiPaula & Campbell, 2002), there will be cultural difference on students’ self-efficacy between individualism and collectivism culture. Research in learning has also suggested one’s personal orientation of individualism versus collectivism may influence various classroom behaviors such as asking questions (e.g., Hwang, Francesco, & Kessler, 2003), and suggested that students with a collectivistic orientation may be less involved and perform poorer in large lecture courses. Self-efficacy may differ from culture to culture, as a person from a collectivist culture might well develop their self-efficacy from those around them whereas an individual from an individualist society might derive their self-efficacy more from their own experiences of success and failure. From these perspectives, it can be inferred that sources of self-efficacy differ by cultures. According to Bandura (1997), there are four major sources of self-efficacy: (1) personal mastery experiences, (2) vicarious experience, (3) social persuasion, and (4) physiological or emotional state. Personal mastery or enactive experience refers to the past experience of success and/or failure. People also develop self-efficacy by watching similar other people perform certain tasks; vicarious experience. Other’s success indicates that they themselves could perform the same task while other...
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