Distinguishing perceived competence and self-efficacy: An example from exercise

Wendy M. Rodgers, David Markland, Anne Marie Selzler, Terra C. Murray, Philip M. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


This article examined the conceptual and statistical distinction between perceived competence and self-efficacy. Although they are frequently used interchangeably, it is possible that distinguishing them might assist researchers in better understanding their roles in developing enduring adaptive behavior patterns. Perceived competence is conceived in the theoretical framework of self-determination theory and self-efficacy is conceived in the theoretical framework of social-cognitive theory. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to empirically distinguish perceived competence from self-efficacy for exercise.

Method: Two studies evaluated the independence of perceived competence and self-efficacy in the context of exercise. Using 2 extant instruments with validity and reliability evidence in exercise contexts, the distinctiveness of the 2 constructs was assessed in 2 separate samples (n = 357 middle-aged sedentary adults; n = 247 undergraduate students).

Results: Confirmatory factor analysis supported the conceptual and empirical distinction of the 2 constructs.

Conclusions: This study supports the conceptual and statistical distinction of perceived competence from perceived self-efficacy. Applications of these results provide a rationale for more precise future theorizing regarding their respective roles in supporting initiation and maintenance of health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-539
Number of pages13
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct. 2014


  • exercise
  • factorial validity
  • motivation
  • need satisfaction


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