On Restraining the Feeling of Self-Efficacy in the Academic Environment: Some Aspects of Institutional Violence

On Restraining the Feeling of Self-Efficacy in the Academic Environment: Some Aspects of Institutional Violence

Cristina Georgiana Safta (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania) and Corina Iurea (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2960-6.ch012
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The aim of the study is to help reduce institutional violence in universities by presenting its origins and manifestations, by explaining how they affect the needs of self-realization and individual progress, by providing solutions—viable, we believe—to eradicate this phenomenon. In this respect, the study will be devoted to a deeper diagnostic analysis which would lead to achieving a comprehensive and explicit picture of the causes of institutional violence at academic level and of the specific forms of expression it takes. The following issues will be addressed: institutional dysfunctions; living and working conditions of the main actors in the academic environment; the duplicitous role of the educational institution; university's helplessness, as a core of educational lofty ideals, to voice these ideals and fulfil them.
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Self-Efficacy: A Few Defining Elements

The concept of self-efficacy is part of the socio-cognitive theories according to which psychological functioning and development must be understood by taking into account three interacting factors: behaviour, the environment and the person. These factors influence each other without, however, having the same impact, thus speaking of a “triadic mutual causality”. (Rondier, M., 2003, p. 475)

Socio-cognitive theories consider individuals to be active agents of their own lives, recognizing their ability to anticipate and adjust their actions. Therefore, self-system is an extremely important personal component, being made up of all cognitions that reflect the subject’s history, a central element of which is self-efficacy.

The feeling of self-efficacy reflects people’s beliefs about their ability to achieve specific performances. They direct the choice of activities and the working environment, they determine the subject’s degree of involvement in achieving the proposed objectives, and they support the individual in their efforts and help him / her manage the emotional reactions generated by the confrontation with certain obstacles.

A.Bandura identifies four major pathways to which he attributes the increase or decrease in self-efficacy (Pânişoară, G., Pânişoară, I.O., 2005, p. 126):

  • Direct Action: Actual life experiences that are successfully completed lead to increased self-esteem, while experiences perceived as a failure diminish this feeling;

  • Observing Others: In assessing their capacities, individuals tend to refer to the actions of other representatives (similar in age, gender, etc.); the success/ failure of people with whom they resemble has a major impact on the way they see themselves, and project their expectations;

  • Verbal Persuasion: Logical arguments formulated in favour of or against personal success/ failure skills can contribute to increasing/ decreasing self-efficacy; however, factors such as: expertise, credibility and the attractiveness of the person who formulates these arguments, are decisive in terms of results; still, this effect occurs especially if the person already has reasons to believe they can act effectively;

  • Perception of One’s Own Physical and Emotional State: Monitoring one’s own psychological factors such as fatigue, fear, etc., is an important indicator of self-efficacy. When a person associates an aversive emotional state, like anxiety, with a poor performance of the desired behaviour, it can raise doubts about one’s personal expertise in performing that behaviour and can lead to failure. Instead, individuals will be more confident in their success if they are not riddled with aversive emotional states.

These four sources allow people to acquire a certain degree of personal efficiency for a given behaviour. Depending on the time and context in which they appear, each of these sources can act in a complementary manner to the others.

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