Albert Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy was developed as part of a larger theory, the Social Learning Theory (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010), which has progressed into the Social Cognitive Theory (Levin, Culkin, & Perrotto, 2001). Social Cognitive Theory was presented by Bandura in response to his dissatisfaction with the principles of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. In these two theories, the role of cognition in motivation and the role of the situation are largely ignored (Bandura, 1977; as cited in Redmond, 2010). "Unidirectional environmental determinism is carried to its extreme in the more radical forms of behaviorism... but humanists and existentialists, who stress the human capacity for conscious judgment and intentional action, contend that individuals determine what they become by their own free choices. Most psychologists find conceptions of human behavior in terms of unidirectional personal determinism as unsatisfying as those espousing unidirectional environmental determinism. To contend that mind creates reality fails to acknowledge that environmental influences partly determine what people attend to, perceive, and think" (Bandura, 1978, p.344-345).
Nevid (2009) explains that Social Cognitive Theory illustrates the fact that individuals do not simply respond to environmental influences, but rather they actively seek and interpret information. Individuals “function as contributors to their own motivation, behavior, and development within a network of reciprocally interacting influences” (Bandura, 1999, p. 169). Although Social Cognitive Theory covers many topics such as moral judgment and physiological arousal, research that is primarily focused on self-efficacy, or the beliefs regarding one's capabilities of successfully completing tasks or goals (Locke & Latham, 2002). According to Bandura (2005), social cognitive theory takes on an agentic perspective to change, development and adaptation. Bandura describes an agent as someone who intentionally influences one’s functioning and life circumstances; “In this view, people are self organizing, proactive, self-regulating, and self reflecting. They are contributors to their life circumstances not just products of them” (Bandura, 2005, p. 1).