Self-efficacy & Sense of Control

An individual’s subjective perception of the degree of influence he/she has on reality – the belief that achievements and failures are the result of his/her choices and actions. Combined with the belief that he/she can cope with complex tasks by taking on and meeting various challenges that life may summon, this affects the person’s emotions and behavior.
Advancing factor

Relation to social mobility

Self-efficacy and a sense of control function as factors of resilience - individuals with higher levels of self-efficacy and sense of control make better choices in all areas of life, are more persistent in bringing their choices to fruition (even in the face of challenges and difficulties), and adapt more easily to changes. Studies have found that feeling in control over life predicts mental health. An explanatory factor in the changing significance of the "smoking" factor in the distinction among groups in many populations: studies show that a sense of control mediates the common correlation between socioeconomic status and health behavior, such as vegetable consumption, physical exercise, and avoidance of smoking. Studies found that personal focus on self-control increases the prospects of academic education.


Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Sidanius, J. (2015). Out of my hands: Low socioeconomic status diminishes personal sense of control. In British Psychological Society Developmental Section and Social Section Annual Conference, Manchester, UK. Lewis, S. K., Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (1999). Establishing a sense of personal control in the transition to adulthood. Social forces, 77(4), 1573-1599. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (2003). Social causes of psychological distress. Transaction Publishers. Rose, R. (2000). How much does social capital add to individual health?. Social science & medicine, 51(9), 1421-1435. Steptoe, A., & Wardle, J. (2001). Locus of control and health behaviour revisited: a multivariate analysis of young adults from 18 countries. British journal of Psychology, 92(4), 659-672. Leganger, A., & Kraft, P. (2003). Control constructs: Do they mediate the relation between educational attainment and health behaviour?. Journal of health psychology, 8(3), 361-372. Piatek, R., & Pinger, P. (2010). Maintaining (locus of) control? Assessing the impact of locus of control on education decisions and wages. Assessing the impact of locus of control on education decisions and wages, 10-093. Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological monographs: General and applied, 80(1), 1. Cinamon, R. G., & Rich, Y. (2014). Work and family plans among at-risk Israeli adolescents: A mixed-methods study. Journal of Career Development, 41(3), 163-184. Sulimani-Aidan, Y. (2015). Do they get what they expect?: The connection between young adults' future expectations before leaving care and outcomes after leaving care. Children and youth services review, 55, 193-200.

Desirable achievements

Ages 18-25
Ages 26-35

Key population

  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
Studies indicate that socioeconomic status is one of the most reliable predictors of a sense of control. In addition, it seems that the way in which individuals perceive their relative position on the social scale, rather than their objective position, affects their sense of control.