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Self-efficacy was conceptualized by Albert Bandura and is a subset of the social cognitive theory. The self-efficacy concepts postulate that humans have control over their actions and behaviors. In this regard, all humans have the capabilities and capacities to be successful, provided they have self-efficacy and the opportunities to pursue their goals. Hence, the level of self-efficacy is influenced by both internal and external factors (Ramachandran, 2012). The internal factors relate to personal motivation and self-belief, while the external factors relate to access to opportunities to attain the set goals. Thus, individuals who report better outcomes are not necessarily better than those struggling but have access to opportunities and models for high self-efficacy. Hence, in the presence of opportunities, positive social persuasion, and reinforcement models, individuals can attain high levels of self-efficacy.

Internal and External Criticism

Internal Criticism

Internal criticism focus on how the internal construct of the theory fits together, while external criticism focuses on the relationship between the theory, people, and nursing. Thus, from the internal complaint, Peterson & Bredow (2020) argued that clarity, logical development, level of theory development, and consistency are to be prioritized. Based on this premise, the self-efficacy theory is straightforward to understand by the reader. Hence, the theory fits the clarity criteria due to the simplicity of the theory. Concerning logical consequence, the theory originated from the cognitive theory, the tools to measure self-efficacy have equally developed, notably bandura self-efficacy tool is in existence and can be used to test for the theories concepts. Besides, the conclusion concerning human behaviors is equally logical.

The theory equally accounts for the subject matter under consideration. At the same time, the study finding by Ramachandran (2012) supports the notion that the theory does not have gaps that require further modifications. Concerning consistency, the outcome efficacy and self-efficacy have been explained throughout the theory. But, as per Bandura, the outcome and the self-efficacy concept differ. In this regard, the association between the outcome and self-efficacy is not consistent with Bandura’s conceptualization of the theory (Shorey & Lopez, 2021). Concerning the level of the theory, self-efficacy is a middle-range theory due to the few concepts and the potential for generalization.

External Criticism

Making a judgment on whether a theory can be used for nursing research also requires an evaluation of the theory by focusing on external criticism. The component of interest relates to complexity. In this case, the self-efficacy theory uses human agency and self-efficacy to explain the theory, which does not require lengthy descriptions (Shorey & Lopez, 2021). Concerning the aspect related to discrimination, the theory can produce hypotheses regarding human behaviors that can be used to undertake nursing research. Besides, the theory’s underlying assumption holds and reflects the real-world situation. In particular, as per Ramachandran (2012), access to opportunities and reinforcement models are the primary differentiation between positive and negative behaviors. The theory is equally pragmatic and significant in nursing practice since the hypothesis accrued from the theory of crucial importance in nursing practice, while the utility of the theory can be used across different nurse settings.

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