Our findings revealed that there was a relationship between family functions and general self-efficacy in both studies. This means that the healthier functioning of the family, the higher the general self-efficacy of its members. These results were in line with the results of studies conducted by Hall ; Caprara et al. ; Hoeltje et al. ; Lotfinia et al. .
To explain the relationship between family functions and general self-efficacy, it is noteworthy that a healthy family with optimum functioning is supported by its members, and general self-efficacy can be strengthened by social support . Additionally, families with optimum functioning boast parenting styles that can nurture self-efficacy beliefs . Moreover, the most important explanation for this part of the results is Bandura’s perspective based on social learning the family is regarded as one of the crucial sources for imitation and mimicking of general self-efficacy, and parental behaviors and lifestyles are effective patterns for nurturing general self-efficacy .
The children of from families with proper functioning are free to have their say and are provided with the opportunity to express their thoughts on various issues and make suggestions when necessary. As a result, this feeling is bred that they will be able to find suitable solutions for problems, believe in their abilities, and experience higher efficacy. Also, children can express their strengths and weaknesses without any fear in dialogue and interaction-inducing atmosphere, resulting in strengthening one’s beliefs in their strengths, their ability to find solutions to their weaknesses, and their general self-efficacy.
The results of the present study suggested that the general family functions had the strongest correlation with general self-efficacy among all the components of family functions in both groups. The results also showed that there was a relationship between all personality traits and general self-efficacy in the first study, while in the second one, four personality traits and general self-efficacy were correlated, and no relationship was observed between openness to experience and general self-efficacy. In addition, the results of the present study indicated that conscientiousness had the strongest correlation with general self-efficacy in both groups.
Furthermore, the results of studies carried out by Judge and Ilies (2002), Caprara et al. (2005), Stroble et al. (2011),, Gerhardt et al. (2007), and McGeown et al. (2014) indicated that personality traits and general self-efficacy were correlated, which is consistent with the results of the present study [21, 39, 43,44,45]. According to the results of the present study, it can be expressed that the higher neuroticism trait is accompanied with the lower general self-efficacy. Additionally, it can be stated that the more the features of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience are increased, the higher increased the general self-efficacy will be, and vice versa. Judge et al. (2007) and Saleem et al. (2011) concluded that self-efficacy was correlated with personality traits, especially neuroticism and extraversion [46, 47]. Also, the results of a study on teachers showed that self-efficacy was positively correlated with conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness, whereas no relationship was observed between neuroticism and self-efficacy . In this study, agreeableness and general self-efficacy were strongly related, and the reasons for the inconsistency of the results could be the sample size and the instrument employed for measuring general self-efficacy.
Also people with neuroticism display incompatibility when faced with tough conditions, and so they are not capable of managing and controlling situations, and have low self-esteem. Therefore, general self-efficacy is also low . On the other hand, extroverts seek the support of others when faced with tough conditions because of their high flexibility [39, 49]. They also receive the encouragement of others because of higher sociability, leading to placing more emphasis on one’s capabilities and competency . Besides, extroverts tend to express their ideas and feelings, which is deemed a great source for general self-efficacy .
To better explain the relationship between general self-efficacy and openness to experience, it can be stated that one with this personality trait will be interested in experiencing new and unfamiliar things . That is why they feel that they can handle academic tasks and assignments and feel bound to carry out their tasks, increasing their efforts because they believe in themselves which will help them reach general self-efficacy. Moreover, those who are open to experience tend to meet challenging situations and get less disappointed when faced with unexpected situations; rather, they embrace such situations and display this characteristic most of the time .
The results of the present study showed that conscientiousness and general self-efficacy were correlated, which is consistent with the results of studies carried out by Colquitt & Simmering (1998) and Jones & Green (2001). It can be argued that it is not unexpected that one with more conscientiousness will have more general self-efficacy because they probably believe in their abilities and limitations and select realizable goals for themselves. People with conscientiousness are characterized as being diligent, feeling duty bound, not giving up in the face of obstacles, and being goal-oriented. They also perform their tasks carefully, which will help them achieve success, that will in turn result in the formation of feelings of competence and general self-efficacy [52, 53]. On the other hand, people with conscientiousness often work in groups, benefiting from the support of the group . Therefore, the higher the level of one’s conscientiousness, the higher their general self-efficacy .
We suggested that there is a significant relationship between agreeableness and general self-efficacy among the students. However, in the general population (the second study), this relationship is not significant. To explain this finding of the study, we have to focus on the characteristics of the participants in the two samples since considering the age range of the students, agreeableness will be higher, and this trait is reduced when age increases.
The study results revealed that the subscales of family functions and personality traits together can predict between 27 and 35% of the general self-efficacy. These results explain that between 27 and 35% of the general self-efficacy is under the influence of family functions and personality traits, future researches can find other related variables.
Reciprocal determinism in social cognitive theory which was introduced by Bandura  explains the relationships among the environment, self, and behavior. Our study is matching this theory, because we investigated the family function and personality traits, so we considered the environment (Family), self (personality traits), and behavior (general self- efficacy).
Our results revealed that conscientiousness played the most prominent role in predicting general self-efficacy compared to all other variables.
Given the values of the regression coefficients in the regression analysis, it can be concluded that general self-efficacy is more personality-oriented and is highly influenced by personality traits, which is in line with theories stressing that general self-efficacy is personality-oriented. On the other hand, this finding can be intriguing for psychologists and behavioral science researchers.
We concluded that after controlling the age variable, a significant relationship was found between family functions and all personality traits, except for openness to experience, among the general population. In addition, in the group aged less than 30 years old, the general family functions and conscientiousness had the strongest correlations with general self-efficacy, respectively. This result is inconsistent with the general findings of the present study, indicating the importance of family in this age range. Moreover, in the 30–50 age range, the highest effect size belonged to conscientiousness. In other words, conscientiousness plays an important role in predicting general self-efficacy, which is in line with the overall findings of the present study. As for the third age group, i.e. those over the age of 50, agreeableness plays a considerable role in predicting general self-efficacy. The role of the age should be considered to determine which factor has more influence on self-efficacy, however, general self-efficacy is not influenced by age since the results of our study showed that there was no relationship between age and general self-efficacy.
As a result, Annesi (2007) reported that no change in general self-efficacy was seen by changing age .
The results of this study led us to the conclusion that self-efficacy is influenced by personality traits and these traits are more influenced by genetics and nature. It is suggested that in future research, the contribution of each of the nature and nurture factors in the formation of self-efficacy be determined.
Limitations and strengths
Our study has several limitations. Due to the length of the research questionnaire questions, it may affect the accuracy of the participants’ answers. Therefore, it is suggested that shorter forms of these questionnaires be used in future research. Also, this research was conducted in one of the Kurdish cities of western Iran (Kermanshah), so the generalization of these results to other cultures and cities of Iran and the world should be cautious. Finally, the cross-sectional design was another limitation of the present study. It is recommended that longitudinal design be performed in the future. This study was conducted with a large sample conducted in western Iran. Also, participants were evaluated in the study sample by trained and experienced individuals.