Self-focus, gender, and habitual self-handicapping: Do they make a difference in behavioral self-handicapping?

Charles E. Kimble1, Edward R. Hirt2
1University of Dayton, United States
2Indiana University, United States
Cite this article:  Kimble, C., & Hirt, E. (2005). Self-focus, gender, and habitual self-handicapping: Do they make a difference in behavioral self-handicapping?. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 33, 43-56.

Volume 33 Issue 1 | e1377 | Published: February 2005 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2005.33.1.43

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In this experiment we examined the effects of public self-focus on individuals’ behavioral self-handicapping tendencies. When faced with a threatening evaluation, a person may choose to self-handicap behaviorally. Men, more than women, and trait self-handicappers have been shown to self-handicap behaviorally. How do situational factors such as self-focus interface with these personal characteristics to affect such actions? Self-focus of attention was expected to make the self-evaluation implications of an upcoming performance more salient and to cause the self-focused performer to self-handicap behaviorally. Persons who were low or high in habitual self-handicapping were presented with an important intellectual evaluation and were allowed to practice for the upcoming test. Results showed that men self-handicap more by practicing less when they are self-focused, but women do not self-handicap under self-focus and self-handicapping instruction conditions. The implications of these findings for understanding the antecedent conditions of self-handicapping are discussed in the context of other recent work.


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