Engaging the Other: Examining How Empathy Facilitates Self-Efficacy
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Self-efficacy is the belief that one can effect change by one’s actions. One way to increase self-efficacy is through “vicarious experiences,” or identifying with someone who has been previously successful. This paper tests the hypothesis that empathy mediates the relationship between vicarious experiences and self-efficacy. 174 participants from MTurk were recruited to test a correlational, cross-sectional study. Results confirmed the hypothesis that the relationship between vicarious experiences and self-efficacy is mediated by empathy. Within the facets of empathy, perspective taking is a positive mediator while personal distress and fantasy are negative mediators. These results suggest that it may be possible for one’s self-efficacy to increase after simply taking the perspective of the other, rather than personally identifying with someone else. This finding is particularly helpful for people vulnerable to lower levels of successful social modeling. Further research should explore the extent to which perspective-taking can foster self-efficacy within specific contexts.