General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE)


Author of Tool: 

Ralf Schwarzer & Matthias Jerusalem

Key references: 

Jerusalem, M., & Schwarzer, R. (1992). Self-efficacy as a resource factor in stress appraisal processes. In R. Schwarzer (Ed.), Self-efficacy: Thought control of action (pp. 195-213). Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
Mittag, W., & Schwarzer, R. (1993). Interaction of employment status and self-efficacy on alcohol consumption: A two-wave study on stressful life transitions. Psychology & Health, 8, 77-87.
Schwarzer, R. (1994). Optimism, vulnerability, and self-beliefs as health-related cognitions: A systematic overview. Psychology & Health, 9, 161-180.

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.

Zhang, J. X., & Schwarzer, R. (1995). Measuring optimistic self-beliefs: A Chinese adaptation of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 38 (3), 174-181.

Bäßler, J., & Schwarzer, R. (1996). Evaluación de la autoeficacia: Adaptación española de la escala de autoeficacia general [Measuring generalized self-beliefs: A Spanish adaptation of the General Self-Efficacy scale]. Ansiedad y Estrés, 2 (1), 1-8.

Schwarzer, R., & Fuchs, R. (1996). Self-efficacy and health behaviors. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health behavior: Research and practice with social cognition models. (pp. 163-196) Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Schwarzer, R., Jerusalem, M., & Romek, V. (1996). Russian version of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Foreign Psychology (Moskow), 7, 71-77 [in Russian].

Schwarzer, R., Bäßler, J., Kwiatek, P., Schröder, K., & Zhang, J. X. (1997). The assessment of optimistic self-beliefs: Comparison of the German, Spanish, and Chinese versions of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46 (1), 69-88.

Schwarzer, R., & Born, A. (1997). Optimistic self-beliefs: Assessment of general perceived self-efficacy in thirteen cultures. World Psychology, 3(1-2), 177-190.

Schwarzer, R., Born, A., Iwawaki, S., Lee, Y.-M., Saito, E., & Yue, X. (1997). The assessment of optimistic self-beliefs: Comparison of the Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean versions of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 40 (1), 1-13.

Schwarzer, R., Mueller, J., & Greenglass, E. (1999). Assessment of perceived general self-efficacy on the Internet: Data collection in cyberspace. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 12, 145-161.

Rimm, H., & Jerusalem, M. (1999). Adaptation and validation of an Estonian version of the General Self-Efficacy Scale (ESES). Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 12, 329-345.

Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (Eds.). (1999). Skalen zur Erfassung von Lehrer- und Schülermerkmalen: Dokumentation der psychometrischen Verfahren im Rahmen der Wissenschaftlichen Begleitung des Modellversuchs Selbstwirksame Schulen. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.

Scholz, U., Gutiérrez-Doña, B., Sud, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2002). Is general self-efficacy a universal construct? Psychometric findings from 25 countries. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 18(3), 242-251.

Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (2004). General self-efficacy scale. In S. Salek (Ed.), Compendium of quality of life instruments (Vol. 6, Section 2A:1) [CD-ROM]. Cardiff, Wales: Centre for Socioeconomic Research, Cardiff University. Haslemere, England: Euromed Communications [CD-ROM publication, without page numbers].

Luszczynska, A., Gutiérrez-Doña, B., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). General self-efficacy in various domains of human functioning: Evidence from five countries. International Journal of Psychology, 40(2), 80-89.

Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Multidimensional health locus of control: Comments on the construct and its measurement. Journal of Health Psychology, 10(5), 633-642.

Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Social cognitive theory. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health behaviour (2nd ed. rev., pp. 127-169). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.

Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). The role of self-efficacy in health self-regulation. In W. Greve, K. Rothermund, & D. Wentura (Eds.), The adaptive self: Personal continuity and intentional self-development (pp. 137-152). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe/Huber.

Schwarzer, R., Boehmer, S., Luszczynska, A., Mohamed, N. E., & Knoll, N. (2005). Dispositional self-efficacy as a personal resource factor in coping after surgery. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 807-818.

Schwarzer, R., & Luszczynska, A. (2005). Self-efficacy, adolescents’ risk-taking behaviors, and health. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents. Adolescence and education (Vol. V; pp. 139-159). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Luszczynska, A., Mohamed, N. E., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). Self-efficacy and social support predict benefit finding 12 months after cancer surgery: The mediating role of coping strategies. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 10, 365-375.

Luszczynska, A., Scholz, U., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). The general self-efficacy scale: Multicultural validation studies. The Journal of Psychology, 139(5), 439-457.

Boehmer, S., Luszczynska, A., & Schwarzer, R. (2007). Coping and quality of life after tumor surgery: Personal and social resources promote different domains of quality of life. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 20, 61-75.

Schwarzer, R., & Luszczynska, A. (2007). Self-efficacy. In M. Gerrard & K. D. McCaul (Eds.), Health behavior constructs: Theory, measurement, and research. National Cancer Institute Website.

Schwarzer, R., & Hallum, S. (2008). Perceived teacher self-efficacy as a predictor of job stress and burnout: Mediation analyses. Applied Psychology: An International Review. Special Issue: Health and Well-Being, 57, 152-171.

Gutiérrez-Doña, B., Lippke, S., Renner, B., Kwon, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2009). How self-efficacy and planning predict dietary behaviors in Costa Rican and South Korean women: A moderated mediation analysis. Applied Psychology: Health & Well-Being, 1, 91–104. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2009.01004.x

Lippke, S., Wiedemann, A. U., Ziegelmann, J. P., Reuter, T., & Schwarzer, R. (2009). Self-efficacy moderates the mediation of intentions into behavior via plans. American Journal of Health Behavior, 33, 521-529. doi: 10.1080/08870440902939857

Satow, L., Lippke, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2009). Planung und Selbstwirksamkeit von Teilnehmern an einer Online-Intervention für entwöhnungsmotivierte Raucher [Planning and self-efficacy of participants in an online intervention for cessation motivated smokers]. Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie, 17(3), 114-120. doi: 10.1926/0943-8149.17.3.114

Luszczynska, A., Cao, D. S., Mallach, N., Pietron, K., Mazurkiewicz, M., & Schwarzer, R. (2010). Intentions, planning, and self-efficacy predict physical activity in Chinese and Polish adolescents: Two moderated mediation analyses. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 10(2), 265-278.

Schwarzer, R., Richert, J., Kreausukon, P., Remme, L., Wiedemann, A. U., & Reuter, T. (2010). Translating intentions into nutrition behaviors via planning requires self-efficacy: Evidence from Thailand and Germany. International Journal of Psychology, 54, 260-268.

Richert, J., Reuter, T., Wiedemann, A. U., Lippke, S., Ziegelmann, J., & Schwarzer, R. (2010). Differential effects of planning and self-efficacy on fruit and vegetable consumption. Appetite, 54, 611–614.

Reuter, T., Ziegelmann, J. P., Wiedemann, A. U., Geiser, C., Lippke, S., Schüz, B., & Schwarzer, R. (2010). Changes in intentions, planning, and self-efficacy predict changes in behaviors: An application of latent true change modeling. Journal of Health Psychology, 15, 935-947. doi: 10.1177/1359105309360071

Schwarzer, R., & Warner, L. M. (2010). Forschung zur Selbstwirksamkeit bei Lehrerinnen und Lehrern [Research on teacher self-efficacy]. In E. Terhart, H. Bennewitz, & M. Rothland (Eds.), Handbuch der Forschung zum Lehrerberuf (pp. 452-466). Münster, Germany: Waxmann-Verlag.

Warner, L.M., Ziegelmann, J. P., Schüz, B., Wurm, S., Tesch-Römer, C., & Schwarzer, R. (in press). Maintaining autonomy despite multimorbidity: Self-efficacy and the two faces of social support. European Journal of Aging

Primary use / Purpose: 

The scale was created to assess a general sense of perceived self-efficacy with the aim in mind to predict coping with daily hassles as well as adaptation after experiencing all kinds of stressful life events.


The construct of Perceived Self-Efficacy reflects an optimistic self-belief (Schwarzer, 1992). This is the belief that one can perform a novel or difficult tasks, or cope with adversity — in various domains of human functioning. Perceived self-efficacy facilitates goal-setting, effort investment, persistence in face of barriers and recovery from setbacks. It can be regarded as a positive resistance resource factor. Ten items from the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) are designed to tap this construct. Each item refers to successful coping and implies an internal-stable attribution of success. Perceived self-efficacy is an operative construct, i.e., it is related to subsequent behavior and, therefore, is relevant for clinical practice and behavior change.

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.


In samples from 23 nations, Cronbach’s alphas ranged from .76 to .90, with the majority in the high .80s. The scale is unidimensional. Criterion-related validity is documented in numerous correlation studies where positive coefficients were found with favorable emotions, dispositional optimism, and work satisfaction. Negative coefficients were found with depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, and health complaints. In studies with cardiac patients, their recovery over a half-year time period could be predicted by pre-surgery self-efficacy.
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