Does self-efficacy mediate transfer effects in the learning of easy and difficult motor skills?

David Stevens, David I. Anderson, Nicholas J. O'Dwyer, A. Mark Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of task difficulty on inter-task transfer is a classic issue in motor learning. We examined the relation between self-efficacy and transfer of learning after practicing different versions of a stick balancing task. Practicing the same task or an easier version led to significant pre- to post-test transfer of learning, whereas practicing a more difficult version did not. Self-efficacy increased modestly from pre- to post-test with easy practice, but decreased significantly with difficult practice. In addition, self-efficacy immediately prior to the post-test was significantly lower after difficult practice than easy or intermediate practice. Self-efficacy immediately prior to the post-test, performance at the end of practice, and pre-test performance explained 75% of the variance in post-test performance. The mediating role of self-efficacy on transfer of learning offers an alternative explanation for recent findings on the superiority of easy-to-difficult transfer and may help clarify inconsistencies in earlier research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1122-1128
Number of pages7
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Balance
  • Confidence
  • Motor learning
  • Motor performance
  • Motor skill
  • Self-efficacy


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