Personality traits

Perceived Self-efficacy


Contact: Hannie Comijs

Perceived self-efficacy is defined as the belief of a person in his or her ability to organize and execute certain behaviours that are necessary in order to produce given attainments. The self-efficacy theory posits that efficacy beliefs influence the type of activity people choose to engage in, the level of effort they spend, and their perseverance in the face of difficulties. The self-efficacy theory emphasizes domain-specificity, implying that the strongest relationships exist between beliefs regarding a specific behaviour performance and the actual performance of that behaviour. However, various and numerous experiences of failure and success in different domains of functioning may generate more generalized beliefs of self-efficacy that have explanatory value as well. Sherer et al. (1982) developed a measure to tap these generalized beliefs, the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES). The original scale consisted of 17 items representing the three aspects underlying the scale; i.e. willingness to initiate behaviour, ‘Initiative’, willingness to expend effort in completing the behaviour, ‘Effort’, and persistence in the face of adversity, ‘Persistence’. Respondents were asked to indicate whether various statements applied to them (strongly disagree, disagree, no disagreement /agreement, agree, strongly agree; range 1-5).

Measurement instruments in LASA
Based on pilot-studies with older persons five items were excluded because of low item-rest correlations and ambiguous wording, resulting in a 12-item version of the scale (GSES-12; Bosscher et al., 1992). Data were collected in the main face-to-face interview. There is no generally used cut-off score.

In order to construct the total score of self-efficacy the negative items (items 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12) need to be recoded (1=5, 2=4, 3=3, 4=2, 5=1). Thus, a minimum score of 12 indicates the most negative general self-efficacy score and 60 the most positive (LASA228).

Confirmatory factor analyses revealed three subscales (Bosscher and Smit, 1998);
(1) Initiative, items 4, 8, 11
(2) Effort, items 1, 2, 5, 7, 10
(3) Persistence, items 3, 6, 9, 12

LASAB028 / LASAC028 / LASAD028 / LASAE028 / LAS2B028 / LASAF028 / LASAG028 / LASAH028 / LAS3B028 / LASAI028 (main interview: in Dutch)

Variable information
LASAB028 / LASAC028 / LASAD028 / LASAE028 / LAS2B028 / LASAF028 / LASAG028 / LASAH028 / LAS3B028 / LASAI028;
LASAB228 / LASAC228 / LASAD228 / LASAE228 / LAS2B228 / LASAF228 / LASAG228 / LASAH228 / LAS3B228/ LASAI228 (constructed variables)

Availability of information per wave1:


























1 More information is available on:

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
  3B=baseline third cohort;
  MB=migrants: baseline first cohort (Under Construction);
  I=Under Construction

Ma=data collected in main interview

Previous use in LASA
The self-efficacy scale is previously used in several publications: describing its psychometric properties (Bosscher et al. 1998), in relation with depression and social support (Penninx et al 1998), depression and chronic diseases (Bisschop et al 2004), memory complaints (Comijs et al 2002), social support and mortality (Penninx et al. 1997), mastery (Schuijt-Lucassen & Deeg 2006), well-being and deteriorating health (Jonker et al., 2009).


  1. Bisschop MI, Kriegsman DM, Beekman AT, Deeg DJ. Chronic diseases and depression: the modifying role of psychosocial resources. Soc Sci Med. 2004, 59(4):721-33.
  2. Bosscher, R.J., Laurijssen, L., and Boer, E., de. Competence at later age: An explorative study. (Competentie op latere leeftijd: Een exploratieve studie.) Bewegen & Hulpverlening, 1992, 9: 225-265. Dutch.
  3. Bosscher, R.J. and Smit, J.H. Confirmatory factor analysis of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1998, 36, 339-343.
  4. Comijs HC, Deeg DJ, Dik MG, Twisk JW, Jonker C. Memory complaints; the association with psycho-affective and health problems and the role of personality characteristics. A 6-year follow-up study. J Affect Disord. 2002, 72(2):157-65.
  5. Jonker, A.G.C., Comijs, H.C., Knipscheer, C.P.M., Deeg, D.J.H. (2009). The role of coping resources on change in well-being during persistent health decline. Journal of Aging and Health, 21,8, 1063-1082.
  6. Penninx BW, van Tilburg T, Boeke AJ, Deeg DJ, Kriegsman DM, van Eijk JT. Effects of social support and personal coping resources on depressive symptoms: different for various chronic diseases? Health Psychol. 1998;17(6):551-8.
  7. Penninx BW, van Tilburg T, Kriegsman DM, Deeg DJ, Boeke AJ, van Eijk JT. Effects of social support and personal coping resources on mortality in older age: the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Am J Epidemiol. 1997, 15;146(6):510-9.
  8. Schuijt-Lucassen NY, Deeg DJ. [ Predicting loss of mastery in older adults] Tijdschr Gerontol Geriatr. 2006, 37(6):243-53. Dutch.
  9. Sherer, M., Maddux, J.E., Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B. and Rogers, R.W. (1982). The self-efficacy scale : Construction and validation. Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671.