Social Cognitive Theory and Motivation

Dale H. Schunk and Ellen L. Usher

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Social Cognitive Theory and Motivation

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Social cognitive theory is a theory of psychological functioning that emphasizes learning from the social environment. This chapter focuses on Bandura's social cognitive theory, which postulates reciprocal interactions among personal, behavioral, and social/environmental factors. Persons use various vicarious, symbolic, and self-regulatory processes as they strive to develop a sense of agency in their lives. Key motivational processes are goals and self-evaluations of progress, outcome expectations, values, social comparisons, and self-efficacy. People set goals and evaluate their goal progress. The perception of progress sustains self-efficacy and motivation. Individuals act in accordance with their values and strive for outcomes they desire. Social comparisons with others provide further information on their learning and goal attainment. Self-efficacy is an especially critical influence on motivation and affects task choices, effort, persistence, and achievement. Suggestions are given for future research directions.

Keywords: social cognitive theory; vicarious processes; symbolic processes; self-regulatory processes; goals; self-evaluations of progress; outcome expectations; values; social comparisons; self-efficacy

Article.  10245 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Health Psychology

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