Magnitude: An Important Dimension of Self-Efficacy1


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    Data collection analyses were supported in part by Grant MCJ-189596 from the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health Grant P30-MH52776 and by Grant MCJ-9040 from the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Heather Cecil, School of Public Health, University of Alabama-Birmingham, RHPB 320, 1530 3rd Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35294-0022.


According to Bandura (1977a. 1977b). self-efficacy for a particular task varies along 3 dimensions: magnitude, strength, and generality. Although the magnitude of a task influences one's degree of self-efficacy, researchers have seldom tapped this dimension. We explicitly examined the magnitude dimension, and whether magnitude and confidence represent operationally distinct dimensions. A sample of undergraduates (n= 221) rated how confident they were that they could perform 22 behaviors comprising 3 domains of protective sexual behaviors (refusing sexual intercourse, questioning potential sexual partners, using condoms). Each participant also rank-ordered the difficulty of performing each item within each domain. Data analyses revealed considerable overlap between the dimensions of confidence and magnitude, but also substantial differences. Thus, researchers may want to include this dimension when including self-efficacy.