Costs of Self-Handicapping

Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.
Journal of Personality (Impact Factor: 2.44). 05/2005; 73(2):411-42. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00314.x
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Self-handicapping is rooted in avoidance motivation and low achievement motivation, and self-handicappers tend to place more emphasis on self-presentation than competence (Elliot & Church, 2003). Sanna and Mark (1995) suggested that self-handicapping may facilitate performance by relieving performance anxiety and that selfhandicapping is positively related to short-term positive emotions after failure (McCrea & Hirt, 2001; Zuckerman & Tsai, 2005). However, most research indicates that self-handicapping is negatively related to performance in part because self-handicappers pursue performance avoidance goals in achievement settings (cf. "
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    ABSTRACT: Employee behavioral activation system (BAS) and behavioral inhibition system (BIS) sensitivities have potential to add value to understanding employee personality, job performance ratings, and withdrawal. After controlling for three Big Five personality trait dimensions (Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Extraversion), structural equations modeling results from 102 employees and their managers indicated that employee BAS sensitivity was negatively related to manager ratings of employee job performance and that employee self-defeating behavior partially accounted for the hypothesized negative relations. BAS sensitivity was also indirectly and positively related to employee turnover intentions by failure to delay gratification. BIS sensitivity was positively related to employee self-defeating behavior but was not related to manager ratings of job performance or withdrawal. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings and future research are discussed.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Human Performance
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    • "Moreover, Zuckerman and Tsai (2005) found that, over time, chronic self-handicappers were less well adjusted, reported an increase in substance abuse, and were less intrinsically motivated at work. Many studies have shown that lower self-esteem is related to increased selfhandicapping (e.g., Finez, Berjot, Rosnet, Cleveland, & Tice, 2012; Rhodewalt, 1990; Spalding & Hardin, 1999; Zuckerman & Tsai, 2005). In Studies 3a and 3b, we tested the role that beliefs about deserving bad outcomes play in this link between selfesteem and self-handicapping. "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
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    • "Given its wide ranging negative implications like low academic performance or decreased personal well-being, e.g. (Zuckerman & Tsai, 2005), it is important to identify conditions under which self-handicapping is less likely to occur. Surprisingly, there are only a few studies concerned with this topic, e.g. "
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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.
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