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Self-efficacy, gamification and Leadership

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare
that they are difficult.
(Séneca)

Self-efficacy is another contribution studied from the Psychology which is interesting when we design gamification and especially when this is applied to the enterprise.

The concept of self-efficacy, suggested by Albert Bandura, is well known by psychologists and has generated plenty of research. However, it seems that it has not yet been well understood by those who should understand its practical impact, primarily by families, teachers and those responsible for managing people.

The idea of Self-efficacy self-efficacyis referred to the perception of the capabilities that one can have. It is based in the belief that having abilities and capabilities we can have success. Bandura (1986) made the hypothesis that the self-efficacy affects the choice of activities, the effort required to perform them, and the persistence of the person for its implementation.

In a simple way, we can say that according to our level of self-efficacy we decide if starting or not ac activity. Moreover, if I undertake an activity I will make the effort to do it with greater intensity than if I don’t feel myself like accomplishing it. Finally, if my beliefs about my own abilities to succeed are high, I will insist and will be more motivated to try it despite some initial failures.

According to Bandura, the way people interpret the results of their acts brings information about themselves and also about their personal beliefs and their interaction with the environment and at a time provide information about their performance later on. That is to say, high levels of self-efficacy can predict a better performance in the future.

But, the beliefs about our self-efficacy, ¿Where do they come from? Bandura affirms that they are a product from the interaction of four main sources:

  1. Previous experiences, the capital ones, mainly our successes or failures in situations or similar activities they will give us information on our own effectiveness on next occasions. If I’ve failed previously, my level of self-efficacy in that context and that activity will be low, therefore there will be little chance to perform this activity by self-initiative, given the case make I will make the required effort and finally I will persist in the event of a failure. On the contrary, I will succeed if my previous experiences are successful. One of the diverse learnings of the videogames is that they are designed so that the chances of success are high at the beginning, and that is why, in addition of a low difficulty, the first levels tend to give many clues on how to overcome the challenge in a correct way.
  1. The experiences through observation. In addition to our own experience, information that comes from seeing the success or failure in our reference models also influences our level of self-efficacy. If I see someone who has success or failure in some activity, it affects my own sense of self-efficacy. Given that the person who I see perceives it as comparable with me. This information is not as powerful as our own experience, but when it is scarce or not so relevant, can be an important source of information about the personal capabilities. For example, if I have never ridden a bike, but I see that a similar group to mine can learn easily, I will be more likely to learn how to do it.
  1. Verbal persuasion, the fact that the persons we trust are reliable and can inform us about our capabilities is an important source of self-efficacy, when we don’t have other references or when we need to contrast them. To improve the level of self-efficacy is a good idea that your teacher, your father or your boss says: “you can do it”, “you are able to do it”. However, is not a steady source, because if we fail, our level of self-efficacy will decrease and we will be frustrated afterwards. For this reason, the people who lead and teach must be careful to encourage and provide information about the capabilities at the same time exposing the person to tasks that truly have chances of success. In Gamification we would be talking about the levels of “input” (“onboarding”).
  2. Physiological states.A third source of information about the self-efficacy are our own physiological reactions when it comes to face the execution of certain tasks. States such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, etc., influence what we think, our feelings of suffocation, increased heartbeat, sweating, among others, and are associated with a poor performance, or a perception of incompetence or possible failure. On the other hand, the feeling of euphoria can positively alter this information about self-efficacy. In this case video games use emotional resources to induce changes in our physiological reactions: music, scenarios, messages… mostly because these games are often perceived as safe and comfortable environments, which reduces the possibility of unsolicited physiological changes.

If we take care of this sources for the self-efficacy we will have more probabilities of starting the avtivities with more energy, more motivation and persistence. These characteristics: initiative, energy and motivation, are the ones desirable for their sons and collaborators from the point of view of the parents, techars and managers, but are they really worried themselves for influencing the sources? What do they do to increase the self-efficacy level in those people?

What offers us the gamification is that we learn from video games and we can design input activities so that the players practice, learn and at the same time gain self-confidence. Thus it will easy to practice on the first levels and reach the following levels with a high sense of self-efficacy, from my own experience. But they will also have the success of people’s reference information as it happens in the classifications. In addition, they support successes from the beginning with positive information and verbal persuasion. And all in a comfortable and controlled environment, avoiding unnecessary stress and anxiety.

With all this, we manage to increase the levels of self-efficacy on the players. In other words, they will be encouraged, motivated and with confidence and resistance to frustration.

However, in reality, initially when we see the people who could most affect our levels of self-efficacy, it is normal to find scenes so professional like this:

“Hey you, see what you can do with this and see if this time you pay more attention and you have to be careful of not to ruin it. Don’t do the same of your colleague Andrés, who almost ruined us and narrowly killed himself.”

Thus, courage! Do you think that we are still learning from reality or from games?

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