Social Cognitive Theory and Motivation

Dale H. Schunk, Ellen L. Usher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

132 Scopus citations


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 selfregulatory 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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940936
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • Goals
  • Outcome expectations
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-evaluations of progress
  • Self-regulatory processes
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Social comparisons
  • Symbolic processes
  • Values
  • Vicarious processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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