Albert Bandura defined collective efficacy (CE) as a group’s shared belief in its conjoint capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainments, that is, situation-specific confidence in a group’s ability. A commonly used definition of CE in sport and exercise is a group’s (e.g., a sport team or an exercise group) belief in its ability to produce given levels of attainment. Whether in sport, exercise, or human behavior more broadly, CE is believed to be a primary determinant of group behavior and thought patterns that occur within groups. The content of this entry focuses mainly on CE in sport due to spatial limitations (but can easily be generalized to other settings such as exercise), provides a broad overview of related research, and is organized as follows. First, a distinction between selfefficacy (SE) and CE is provided. Measurement of CE then is described. Potential sources and proposed outcomes of CE then are reviewed. Future directions conclude this entry.
Self-Efficacy Versus Collective Efficacy
Like SE, CE beliefs focus on can do and not will do perceptions that reside within individuals. A key distinction between these two types of efficacy beliefs is the target of the efficacy appraisal or unit of agency where SE is focused at the individual level (my confidence in my ability to . . .) and CE is focused at the group level (my confidence in my group’s ability to . . .). The relevance of CE depends, in part, on the presence of a sufficient level of interdependence within the group with regard to the performance task.
As an example, which will be used periodically throughout the remainder of this entry, suppose that female athletes are nested within female teams and that both SE and CE are of interest in relation to athlete-level and team-level performance, respectively. A team member can have beliefs about her own ability in relation to a particular individual performance task (SE for individual performance) that may differ from her beliefs in the team’s ability in relation to a particular team performance task (CE for team performance). Similarly, individual athletes within the same team may differ markedly in their assessment of the team’s ability in relation to a particular team performance task (within-group variability of CE for team performance). For the purpose of this entry, let us assume that CE and team performance are of primary interest. It should be noted, however, that both types of efficacy beliefs and both types of performance tasks could be studied simultaneously and that doing so would probably better reflect actual behavior and thought patterns that occur within interdependent groups in practice.
Measurement of Collective Efficacy
Kevin Spink and Deborah Feltz encouraged the study of CE in sport in the early 1990s, several years after the study of SE in sport was well established. These two seminal studies did not define, and therefore measure, CE in the same way. In one of the studies, the definition of CE focused on the fact that groups often have collective expectations for success (e.g., What placing do you expect to attain in this performance task?). In the other study, the definition of CE focused on a group’s belief in its conjoint capabilities to produce given levels of attainment (e.g., Rate your confidence right now that your team can outskate your upcoming opponent team). Both of these studies used a task-specific measurement approach, where unique items were developed with respect to the specific performance task under study. From these seminal studies, CE in sport has since been assessed in a variety of ways.
There are at least four task-specific methods that have been used to assess CE in sport. The first method involves measuring each athlete’s SE beliefs in relation to a particular performance (e.g., how confident are you in your ability to . . .) and then combining team members’ SE measures in some way to form a single CE (→CE) measure (SE→CE) for each team. The second method involves measuring each athlete’s CE beliefs (assumed to reside in the individual athlete; CEI) in relation to a particular performance (e.g., how confident are you in your team’s ability to . . .) and then combining team members’ CE measures in some way to form a single CE measure (CEI→CE) for each team. The third method involves measuring each athlete’s perception of the team’s CE beliefs (assumed to reside in the team; CET) in relation to a particular performance (e.g., how confident is the team in its ability to . . .) and then combining team members’ CE measures in some way to form a single CE measure (CET→CE) for each team. The fourth method involves using a group discussion format to obtain a single, group-level (CEG) measure of CE. The CEI→CE method and the CET→CE method have become the most widely used and are largely accepted as valid. A task-invariant instrument, the CE Questionnaire for Sports, also exists but this instrument appears to be used relatively infrequently to date.
Sources of Collective Efficacy
Albert Bandura proposed that CE beliefs, just like SE beliefs, are based on the complex cognitive processing of approximately four general categories of potential sources of information: past performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological or emotional arousal. Neither vicarious experience (e.g., team modeling) nor physiological or emotional arousal (e.g., team burnout) have been formally studied as potential sources of CE information in sport. Researchers in sport psychology have identified several sport-specific sources of CE information and a few of these are briefly summarized below.
Past performance accomplishments have typically been identified as the strongest source of CE information and have been the most studied to date. There is evidence that past performance, in addition to directly affecting CE, may also affect SE, which in turn can affect CE. Another efficacy belief that may serve as a source of CE information is role efficacy. Role efficacy has been defined as an athlete’s confidence in his or her capabilities to successfully carry out formal interdependent role responsibilities within a group.
Verbal persuasion has been shown to be an effective way to increase CE. For example, a motivational pregame speech delivered by a coach has been shown to increase CE. More generally, teams that exist within a more task-oriented motivational climate as compared to teams that exist within a more ego-oriented climate are believed to have greater CE due, in part, to the positive reinforcements that exist in such environments for more malleable outcomes than won–loss (e.g., improvement, hard work, teamwork). Finally, a coach’s behavior (e.g., communication style) in general is a key source of CE information.
There are a few proposed sources of CE information in sport that do not fit neatly into any of the four general categories of potential sources of information but may nonetheless be important.
Team size has been shown to be an important factor but the direction and magnitude of the relationship seems to depend strongly on the specific type(s) of performance task(s) being studied. Length of time that a team has been together is another potentially important factor given that CE beliefs take time to form (recall, for example, the role of past performances). Length of time a team has been together may also be related to more general team development issues, which in turn may be related CE beliefs.
Outcomes of Collective Efficacy
Albert Bandura proposed that CE beliefs often are a primary determinant of group behavior and thought patterns that occur within groups. CE beliefs affect the choices a group makes (Do we attempt to take on a particular task?), the effort a group dedicates to a particular task (Will we give our best effort to this task?), and the persistence a group displays while working toward completion of a particular task (Given a setback, will we redouble our efforts toward accomplishing this task?). CE beliefs also affect the goals that a group sets (Will we select a goal that pushes our team to perform our very best?), the attributions a group makes (Given a setback, will we identify internal or external explanations for the outcome?), and the emotional reactions a group has (Given that we almost, but not quite, accomplished our goal and that we no longer have the opportunity to pursue this goal, will we feel proud of what we did accomplish?).
The effect of CE on team performance or team functioning has been the most studied outcome in sport. Much of the earlier work was done in controlled laboratory settings, while much of the more recent work has been done in less controlled field settings. A key advantage of the laboratory setting stems from the ability to randomly assign participants to groups (e.g., high efficacy vs. low). A key advantage of the field setting stems from the ability to collect data from real teams that are engaging in a task that is likely to be important to the team members. Regardless of the setting, a positive effect of CE on team performance has typically been observed.
Potential team-level outcomes of CE other than team performance have also been studied and a few of these are briefly summarized below. Team cohesion and CE have frequently been studied simultaneously. Team cohesion has been defined as a dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives or for the satisfaction of member affective needs. In general, stronger CE beliefs have been found to be a positive predictor of team cohesion. CE as a predictor of team attributions has also been studied. In general, athletes who have strong CE beliefs also believe that their team’s performance is something that could be controlled by the team, that is, the attribution for the outcome was internal to the team.
SE theory provides a strong theoretical base for the construction of the CE construct. Albert Bandura’s model of CE serves as a very useful starting point for the nature, sources, and consequences of CE in sport. The definition and therefore the measurement of CE in sport have both become more consistent across time. Clearly there is an emerging basis from which future scholarship likely can proceed in some way. A future direction that may prove fruitful is to develop sport-specific and conceptual model(s) of CE that expand potential sources of CE information as well as potential outcomes of CE.
- Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
- Feltz, D. L., & Lirgg, C. D. (1998). Perceived team and player efficacy in hockey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 557–564.
- Feltz, D. L., Short, S. E., & Sullivan, P. J. (2008). Selfefficacy in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Maddux, J. E. (1999). The collective construction of collective efficacy: Comment on Paskevich, Brawley, Dorsch, and Widmeyer. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3, 223–226.
- Myers, N. D., & Feltz, D. L. (2007). From self-efficacy to collective efficacy in sport: Transitional methodological issues. In G. Tenenbaum & R. C. Eklund (Eds.), The handbook of sport psychology (3rd ed., pp. 799–819). New York: Wiley.
- Myers, N. D., Payment, C. A., & Feltz, D. L. (2004). Reciprocal relationships between collective efficacy and team performance in women’s ice hockey. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 8, 182–195.
- Spink, K. S. (1990b). Group cohesion and collective efficacy of volleyball teams. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 12, 301–311.
- Watson, C. B., Chemers, M. M., & Preiser, N. (2001). Collective efficacy: A multilevel analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1056–1068.