What Is the Connection between Self-Efficacy and Self-Esteem?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2019
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Self-efficacy and self-esteem are two terms, often mistaken for one another, that are closely connected. When self-efficacy is high, self-esteem tends to be high as well, and likewise when self-efficacy is low, self-esteem tends to be low too. The opposite direction is true, also, that levels of self-esteem affect the levels of self-efficacy. Many times, they both are affected by outside sources instead of each other, but even in this case they are usually either both positively affected or both negatively affected. It is rare that self-esteem and self-efficacy have a negative correlation.

The terms self-efficacy and self-esteem are commonly used interchangeably or confused with each other, but they do have different definitions. Self-efficacy is defined as how confident a person is in his or her own abilities, either in general or directed toward a specific task or activity. Self-esteem is more a person's idea of his or her own self-worth, which can be related or unrelated to his or her abilities.


For example, a person with high self-efficacy about his ability to relate to people and present himself as responsible will be much more confident going into a job interview than a person with low self-efficacy about those same goals. Two other job applicants with the same level of self-efficacy about performing well in the interview but with differing levels of self-esteem will probably feel a similar level of confidence about relating to the interviewer. The person with high self-esteem, however, will be more likely to sell his good points to the interviewer and feel secure knowing he is qualified for the job than the person with lower self-esteem, who may have the same qualifications as the other applicant but feel somehow less deserving of the job.

The often strong connection between self-efficacy and self-esteem exists because people who have high self-efficacy and believe strongly in their own capabilities also tend to have a high feeling of self-worth, because they are so capable. Likewise, people who naturally feel they have a higher self-worth tend to also believe themselves to be capable of either doing the necessary tasks or learning how to do them. This also works in the reverse, with low self-efficacy and self-esteem being interconnected. Also, past events are a big determinant of levels of self-efficacy and self-esteem. For instance, a basketball player who has won the last three games for her team might feel on top of the world with high self-esteem and confidence knowing that she is capable of making the winning shot again, while another player who was recently berated for making a mistake probably feels much lower in both self-worth and her ability to perform well.


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If you have a strong sense of your ability to accomplish your work or goals, in other words, self-efficacy, you will be well on your way to building self esteem. Having a job or task that you are passionate about is vital to feeling like your life has meaning, in my opinion. This leads to strong senses of self esteem and self efficacy.

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