The Role of Perceived Self-Efficacy in Controlling Behavior
Samson, Jennifer Esther Glassman
Previous research, grounded in Social Information Processing (SIP) theory (Crick & Dodge, 1994), found that children’s perceived self-efficacy for inhibiting aggression predicted their reputation as “aggressive” (Perry et al., 1986) or a “bully” (Gottheil & Dubow, 2001). Social Information Processing theory suggests that deficits in social competence result from deficiencies in one or more social problem-solving steps, including that perceived self-efficacy for performing a particular strategy may influence whether that strategy is enacted (Crick & Dodge, 1994). Lemerise and Arsenio (2000) add that emotion may play a role in these deficits, in part by inhibiting one’s ability to proceed reasonably through the process, and research has shown that the regulation of emotion is an important predictor of socially competent behavior (Eisenberg et al., 2000). Thus, the current study suggests that perceived self-efficacy for inhibiting aggression can be reconceptualized as perceived self-efficacy for controlling emotionally-driven behaviors, and examines how well children’s perceived self-efficacy to control their behavior predicts externalizing behavior problems when the emotional impetus for the behavior is explicitly stated. Results suggest that a relationship does exist but it is not as simple as originally hypothesized. Specifically, increased student-reported perceived self-efficacy to control behavior was related to increased teacher-reports of rule-breaking behavior, and neither aggressive behavior nor general externalizing behavior problems were related to perceived self-efficacy. Possible explanations for this relationship as well as directions for future work are also discussed.