Fake It Until You Make It: A Study About the Self-Efficacy of Professionals Undergoing Virtual Conversation Simulations
Barroca Henriques Sales, Sofia
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Supporting the education of communication skills can benefit professionals from all fields. Virtual conversation simulation (CS) allows professionals to learn through interactions with virtual intelligent agents (VIA). Previous studies suggesting self-efficacy (SE) to promote performance guide this study’s focus on the SE of professionals (older than 18 years old, from all fields, nationalities and work experiences) who undergo CS training. Scientific findings and components of the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and the Trait Activation Theory (TAT) were the basis for the selection of variables possibly involved in the development of SE and for elaborating a conceptual model. The model involved a positive relationship between mindfulness and SE, with curiosity and specific-task performance (STP) as (partial and serial) mediators. A cross-sectional design with an online survey was implemented; quantitative analysis was conducted considering data of 88 participants who undertook a coaching skills simulation and a survey assessing their curiosity, mindfulness and SE. From a total of nine hypotheses, the results suggest support for one of them, showing a statistically significant positive relationship between STP and SE (at a 5% significance level). Thereby, the findings demonstrate initial evidence that CS might have the potential to improve professionals’ SE. However, the findings do not suggest that mindfulness and curiosity are positively related to SE (statistically non-significant relationships were found). Studying these variables in the context of virtual CS training is a novel aspect of this study.