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Self-efficacy comes through experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, or physiological feedback (Bandura, 1989, 1995, 1997). However, social cognitive theory does not stop with the concept of self-efficacy beliefs. Equally important is the notion of collective efficacy. This component comes about later, after the realization that certain cultures are more likely to bring collective action for behavior change, rather than individual action. Many times in behavior change efforts encounter institutional and infrastructure problems that require collective action. Therefore, collective efficacy is defined as the common belief in the power to create desired effects by collective action (Bandura, 1997). This common belief goes beyond the aggregation of the efficacy beliefs of individual members; it also represents “an emergent property that embodies the coordinative and interactive dynamics of group functioning” (Bandura, 2003).

In a study about self-efficacy in relation to Hofstede’s (1980) dimension of individualism and collectivism, Oettgen (1995) demonstrated that culture does have influence over self-efficacy. For Hofstede (1980, 1994) individual cultures, represented in the Western universe, reinforce and accept personal achievement and competition. While Eastern cultures favor collectivism, emphasizing cooperation and agreement between people, personal achievement and competition is suppressed. Oettgen realizes that the degree to which a culture promotes dependence on the collective effects one’s own and the group’s perception of self-efficacy, which means, setting goals and striving for their attainment, the degree of satisfaction with personal and group achievement. Ultimately, efficacy is to be analyzed in a cultural context.

Bandura (2003) points that a high belief in efficacy is equally important to group directedness as to self-directness. He stresses the differences that exist among cultures, calling attention to the fact that in individualistic cultures there are also collective oriented individuals. Bandura cites as an example, that to lump such different cultures as Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and Spaniards into a Latino category, establishes homogeneity on intra-ethnic diversity. Therefore, cultural diversity may generate “a lot of misleading generalizations” when comparing members of a single individualist culture with members of a collective culture.

Furthermore, he argues that there is a “contentious dualism” in the cross-culture field, characterized by autonomous versus interdependent, personal agency against social structure, and individualism against collectivism. Under this light, he considers it erroneous to equate self- efficacy with individualism, against collectivism. As Bandura (2003) explains:

Perceived efficacy does not come with a built-in individualistic value system. Therefore a sense of efficacy does not necessarily spawn an individualistic life style, identity or morality. If belief in the power to produce effects is put to social purposes, it fosters a communal life, rather than erodes it. People with resilient efficacy and strong pro-social purposes often subordinate self-interest to the benefit of others.

Social learning/cognitive theory is widely utilized as a framework for various studies in diverse fields such as health care, psychology, communications, organizational management, physical education, etc. Studying the role of children’s television in race stereotyping, Graves (1999) concludes that through vicarious experience, televised role portrayals of race and race interactions contribute to the development of stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination among children. On the other hand, programs like Sesame Street have a positive influence on children’s racial knowledge, attitudes and preferences. In a recent content analysis study examining the ethnic/minority portrayal in television advertisement, social cognitive theory is utilized as a framework to help understand their impact on possible audience self-perception (Mastro & Stern 2003).



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