Self-efficacy is the belief that you can effectively reach the goals you have, whether that is solving a puzzle, successfully preparing and succeeding in your exam, or dealing with hardships. Research on self-efficacy was started by one of the most cited and best known psychologists Albert Bandura (e.g., Bandura, 1986).

There is a debate about whether general self-efficacy is a relatively stable personality trait, or whether it is situation dependend. The GSE is based on the assumption that it is a trait (for a discussion of this debate, see Sherbaum et al., 2006).

Self effacy is often considered in respect to specific goals or challenges (e.g., self efficacy in mathematics). The generalized self effacy scale is about the general belief in oneself to solve problems and reach goals.

One of the best know scales for this is the generalized self efficacy scale (GSE) by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995), but note that there are well known alternatives as well, such as the NGSE (Chen et al., 2001) and the SGCSE (Sherer et al., 1982).

The GES has ten items. The implementation below is taken from the paper by (Scholz et al., 2002), which did the GSE with nearly 20,000 people in 25 countries. They found that the international average was 29.55 points (on a scale from 0 to 40).

Interestingly, the Japanese scored lowest and the Costa-Ricans highest. Here are some averages from the paper by Scholz et al., 2002:

Country Average GES



Hong Kong


International average






Cost Rica


Run the demo

It seems that the GSE can be used for research, but you need to acknowledge the authors and their research paper when writing about it, in particular the following:

  • Scholz et al., 2002

  • Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995)

The scale is publicly available (in many languages) via the website of the creator.


This is a simple 10 item scale question without reverse scored items.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: true
- not at all true
- hardly true
- moderately true
- exactly true

l: ges
o: width 50%
o: random
t: scale true
q: Indicate for each statement below how true it is for you.
- I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
- If someone opposes me, I can find the means and ways to get what I want.
- I am certain that I can accomplish my goals.
- I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.
- Thanks to my resourcefulness, I can handle unforeseen situations.
- I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
- I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.
- When I am confronted with a problem, I can find several solutions.
- If I am in trouble, I can think of a good solution.
- I can handle whatever comes my way.

l: score
t: set
- sum $ges

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your score on the general self-efficacy scale is {$score}.<br>
The international average is 29.55.<br>


  • Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • 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 Generalized Self Efficacy scale in many different languages: Website of the creator.

  • Sherer, M., Maddux, J. E., Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., & Rogers, R. W. (1982). The Self-Efficacy Scale: Construction and validation. Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671.

  • Chen, G., Gully, S.M., and Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale. Organizational Research Methods, 4, 62-83

  • Scherbaum, C. A., Cohen-Charash, Y., & Kern, M. J. (2006). Measuring general self-efficacy - A comparison of thre measures using item response theory. Educational and psychological measurement, 66, 1047-1063.

  • Scholz, U., Dona, B. G., Sud, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2002). Is general self-efficacy a universal construct? Psychometric findings from 25 countries. European journal of psychological assessment, 18, 242-251.