MCAT Content / Self Concept And Self Identity And Social Identity / The Role Of Self Esteem Self Efficacy And Locus Of Control In Self Concept And Self Identity

The Role of Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy, and Locus of Control in Self-Concept and Self-Identity

Topic: Self Concept And Self Identity And Social Identity

In addition to how the “self” is defined, there are three powerful influences on an individual’s development of self-concept: self-efficacy, locus of control, and self-esteem.

Self-efficacy is a belief in one’s own competence and effectiveness. It’s how capable we believe we are of doing things. It turns out that this is no small factor studies have shown that simply believing in our own abilities actually improves performance. Self-efficacy can vary from task to task; an individual may have high self-efficacy for a math task and low self-efficacy for juggling.

Locus of control is the extent to which someone believes they control the events that affect them. Locus of control can be internal or external. Those with an internal locus of control believe they are able to influence outcomes through their own efforts and actions. Those with an external locus of control perceive outcomes as controlled by outside forces. Someone with an internal locus may attribute a strong grade to their own intelligence and hard work. The same score may lead someone with an external locus to assume that the test was especially easy or that they were lucky. In an extreme situation, in which people are exposed to situations in which they have no control, they may learn not to act because they believe it will not affect the outcome anyway. Even once this situation passes and they find themselves once again in arenas in which they can exert some control, this lack of action may persist. This phenomenon is known as learned helplessness. It has been shown that believing more in an internal locus of control can be empowering and lead to proactivity. An external locus of control and learned helplessness are characteristics of many depressed and oppressed people, and they often result in passivity.

Self-esteem is one’s overall self-evaluation of one’s self-worth. This may be based on different factors for different individuals, depending on which parts of a person’s identity he or she has determined to be the most important. For some, self-esteem may rest on intelligence. How would you value yourself if you had low vs. high intelligence? For others, it may rest on athletic ability, beauty, or moral character. Self-esteem is related to self-efficacy; self-efficacy can improve self-esteem if one has it for an activity that one values. However, if the activity is not one that is valued, it may not help self-esteem. For example, a person may have high self-efficacy as a solider, but still struggled with low self-esteem if this is not their desired occupation. Low self esteem increases the risk of anxiety, depression, drug use, and suicide. However, inflated self-esteem is also present in gang members, terrorists, and bullies, and may be used to conceal inner insecurities. Unrealistic self-esteem to either extreme can be painful.

People often seek out information about themselves that is consistent with  their own sense of self-concept and self identity, and to think that is more likely to be true. This is called self-verification.


Practice Questions


Khan Academy

 

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Online Flashcards Psychology Question 9

Online Flashcards Psychology Question 19

Sample Test P/S Section Passage 2 Question 9

Sample Test P/S Section Question 29

Practice Exam 3 P/S Section Question 47

Practice Exam 3 P/S Section Passage 10 Question 56

Practice Exam 4 P/S Section Passage 10 Question 53


Key Points

• There are three powerful influences on an individual’s development of self-concept: self-efficacy, locus of control, and self-esteem.

• Self-efficacy is a belief in one’s own competence and effectiveness.

• Locus of control is the extent to which someone believes they can control events that affect them. Locus of control can be internal or external. Those with an internal locus of control believe they are able to influence outcomes through their own efforts and actions. Those with an external locus of control perceive outcomes as controlled by outside forces.

• Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards.

• Self-esteem is one’s overall self-evaluation of one’s self-worth. This may be based on different factors for different individuals, depending on which parts of a person’s identity he or she has determined to be the most important.

• Self-verification is the tendency to believe and seek out information that is consistent with one’s self-concept.


Key Terms

external locus of control: refers to when someone perceives outcomes as controlled by outside forces

internal locus of control:  refers to when someone believes they are able to influence outcomes through their own efforts and actions

learned helplessness: the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards

locus of control: the extent to which someone believes they can control events that affect them

self-efficacy: how someone judges their own competence to complete tasks and reach goals

self-esteem: one’s overall self-evaluation of one’s self-worth

self-verification: the tendency to believe and seek out information that is consistent with one’s self-concept.



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