Costs of Self-Handicapping
ABSTRACT Four studies examined the relation of trait self-handicapping with health-related measures. Study 1 showed that, over time, self-handicapping and maladjustment reinforce each other. Study 2 showed that self-handicappers reported a loss in competence satisfaction which, in turn, mediated the relation of self-handicapping with negative mood. Study 3 found that, over time, self-handicappers report an increase in substance use. Study 4 showed that self-handicappers reported a loss in intrinsic motivation for their jobs. It was suggested that people with unstable (or contingent) self-esteem use self-handicapping to bolster a fragile self-concept.
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ABSTRACT: Drawing on theorizing and research suggesting that people are motivated to view their world as an orderly and predictable place in which people get what they deserve, the authors proposed that (a) random and uncontrollable bad outcomes will lower self-esteem and (b) this, in turn, will lead to the adoption of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. Four experiments demonstrated that participants who experienced or recalled bad (vs. good) breaks devalued their self-esteem (Studies 1a and 1b), and that decrements in self-esteem (whether arrived at through misfortune or failure experience) increase beliefs about deserving bad outcomes (Studies 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b). Five studies (Studies 3–7) extended these findings by showing that this, in turn, can engender a wide array of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors, including claimed self-handicapping ahead of an ability test (Study 3), the preference for others to view the self less favorably (Studies 4–5), chronic self-handicapping and thoughts of physical self-harm (Study 6), and choosing to receive negative feedback during an ability test (Study 7). The current findings highlight the important role that concerns about deservingness play in the link between lower self-esteem and patterns of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 07/2014; 107(1):42-62. DOI:10.1037/a0036640 · 5.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Researchers have argued that the strategies individuals use for self-esteem regulation are interchangeable. In the present study, we examined whether previous self-affirmation reduces the amount of subsequent claimed self-handicapping. More importantly, we tested potential moderators of these effects. Following negative feedback on an intelligence test, 56 female college students were given the opportunity to affirm themselves either within the threatened intelligence domain or within a domain unrelated to the source of threat (e.g., musicality). Results revealed that subjects handicapped less when they had previously affirmed themselves in a domain which was unrelated to the threatening domain (contextual moderator). However, these effects were moderated by dispositional self-esteem (individual moderator). High self-esteem participants claimed fewer handicaps the more they felt self-affirmed whereas claimed self-handicapping among low self-esteem participants was not affected by previous self-affirmation. Altogether, our findings suggest certain limitations on the substitutability of self-protection processes.Psychology 01/2014; 05(05). DOI:10.4236/psych.2014.55042
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ABSTRACT: Claiming or creating obstacles before performing important tasks (i.e., self-handicapping) is a costly strategy to protect the self from implications of poor outcomes. We predicted that forming an if–then plan (implementation intention) helps individuals overcome their performance-related worries and thus prevents self-handicapping behavior. In two experiments, all participants formed the goal to perform well on an upcoming task and learned the strategies to ignore worries and tell themselves “I can do it”, either in an if–then format (implementation intention) or not (control). The task was either described as an intelligence test (highly threatening) or as a perception style test (less threatening). Participants could then claim a self-handicap (report stress, Experiment 1) or behaviorally self-handicap (inadequately prepare, Experiment 2). As predicted, implementation intentions reduced claimed and behavioral self-handicapping to levels observed in the low-threat control conditions. Experiment 2 demonstrated these effects among chronic self-handicappers. Implications of these findings are discussed.Motivation and Emotion 12/2013; 37(4). DOI:10.1007/s11031-013-9352-7 · 1.55 Impact Factor