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The power of clear thinking

Imagine trying to put together a complicated and difficult puzzle after only two hours of sleep the night before. Would you feel alert and fast? It’s more likely you would feel hazy,​​ slow, and unsure. In such a situation, you would be demonstrating reduced cognitive efficacy.

The word “cognitive” refers to clear and effective thinking. “Efficacy” refers to our beliefs about our own abilities and skills.

Hence, cognitive efficacy is our belief in our own abilities to understand, plan, remember, and respond successfully in different situations—it’s being able to think about things accurately and quickly, and having the self-confidence to follow through.

When facing an obstacle, cognitive efficacy is the ability to “see” the problem from different viewpoints, and to make wise choices on what to do about it.

A successful demonstration of cognitive efficacy (CE) would be:
  • Self-confidence in one’s skills and abilities to solve a problem
  • The ability to understand the importance and the scope of a problem
  • Capable thinking skills (e.g. paying attention to the problem, remembering how similar problems in the past have been resolved, planning a strategy, making good decisions)
People demonstrate cognitive efficacy when they feel sharp and alert, are able to think clearly and rationally, and when they believe in their own competence.

Sometimes people are unable to solve a problem on their own. An individual who is cognitively efficacious (has high CE) recognises this, and can search for outside resources to help with problem solving (e.g. asking someone else for help or approaching the problem in a different way).

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Download the​ "Develop your Cognitive Efficacy tip sheet​​" (988KB)​