The General Self Efficacy Scale

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Listing Type : English Scale

The General Self Efficacy Scale

The construct of Perceived Self-Efficacy reflects an optimistic self-belief (Schwarzer, 1992). This is the belief that one can perform a novel or difficult tasks, or cope with adversity — in various domains of human functioning.  Perceived self-efficacy facilitates goal-setting, effort investment,  persistence in face of barriers, and recovery from setbacks. It can be regarded as a positive resistance resource factor. Ten items are designed to tap this construct. Each item refers to successful coping and implies an internal-stable attribution of success. Perceived self-efficacy is an operative construct, i.e., it is related to subsequent behavior and, therefore, is relevant for clinical practice and behavior change.


Ralf Schwarzer & Matthias Jerusalem


German version developed in 1979 by Matthias Jerusalem and Ralf Schwarzer, and later revised and adapted to 26 other languages by various co-authors.


Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized Self-Efficacy scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston, Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs (pp. 35-37). Windsor, UK: NFER-NELSON.


The scale was created to assess a general sense of perceived self-efficacy with the aim in mind to predict coping with daily hassles as well as adaptation after experiencing all kinds of stressful life events.


The scale is designed for the general adult population, including adolescents. Persons below the age of 12 should not be tested.


The scale is usually self-administered, as part of a more comprehensive questionnaire. Preferably, the 10 items are mixed at random into a larger pool of items that have the same response format. Time: It requires 4 minutes on average. Scoring: Responses are made on a 4-point scale. Sum up the responses to all 10 items to yield the final composite score with a range from 10 to 40. No re-coding.


The scale can be applied, for example, to patients before and after surgery to assess changes in quality of life. Also, it can be used in patients with chronic pain or those within a rehabilitation program.


In samples from 23 nations, Cronbach’s alphas ranged from .76 to .90, with the majority in the high .80s. The scale is unidimensional.


Criterion-related validity is documented in numerous correlation studies where positive coefficients were found with favorable emotions, dispositional optimism, and work satisfaction. Negative coefficients were found with depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, and health complaints. In studies with cardiac patients, their recovery over a half-year time period could be predicted by pre-surgery self-efficacy.


The measure has been used internationally with success for two decades. It is suitable for a broad range of applications. It can be taken to predict adaptation after life changes, but it is also suitable as an indicator of the quality of life at any point in time.

As a general measure, it does not tap specific behavior change. Therefore, in most applications, it is necessary to add a few items to cover the particular content of the survey or intervention (such as smoking cessation self-efficacy, or physical exercise self-efficacy). How to write such items is described in Schwarzer and Fuchs (1996).

Contact Prof. Dr. Ralf Schwarzer,
Freie Universität Berlin, Psychologie,
Habelschwerdter Allee 45,
14195 Berlin, Germany,
FAX +49 (30)838-55634

Appendix English version by Ralf Schwarzer & Matthias Jerusalem, 1995
1 I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
2 If someone opposes me, I can find the means and ways to get what I want.
3 It is easy for me to stick to my aims and accomplish my goals.
4 I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.
5 Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen situations.
6 I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
7 I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.
8 When I am confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions.
9 If I am in trouble, I can usually think of a solution.
10 I can usually handle whatever comes my way.
Response Format  1 = Not at all true   2 = Hardly true   3 = Moderately true   4 = Exactly true


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