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Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Confidence consists of positive expectations for favorable outcomes in specific situations. Although often used interchangeably with optimism in popular discourse, confidence is not a character trait nor a global cognitive predisposition. Rather than an attribute of individuals, it is a response to situations; degrees of confidence vary with accumulated experience and are related to the immediate context. While individuals vary in character, mood, and cognitive tendencies, confidence is not a mental construct, solely dependent on what people generally believe. People interpret specific events based on observations of the behavior of others around them and use these to predict the future likelihood of success. The level of confidence helps determine the willingness to invest time, money, reputation, emotional energy, or other resources – or to withhold or hedge investment. This investment, or its absence, shapes the ability to perform. Judgments that underlie confidence can be made at many system levels. People can have confidence in themselves (self-confidence), in other people (thus influencing the others' confidence), or in larger system units, such as organizations, institutions, or nations. The foundation for confidence stems from the quantity of information about strengths and weaknesses and the ability to take corrective action (accountability); the quality of support people ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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