Dysfunctional anticipatory thoughts and the self-handicapping strategy
Article first published online: 27 SEP 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 42, Issue 1, pages 72–81, February 2012
How to Cite
McCrea, S. M. and Flamm, A. (2012), Dysfunctional anticipatory thoughts and the self-handicapping strategy. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 42: 72–81. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.845
- Issue published online: 20 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 27 SEP 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 31 JUL 2010
- Manuscript Received: 31 AUG 2009
- German Science Foundation. Grant Number: DFG: MC 68/1-1
Self-handicapping is an anticipatory self-protective strategy in which individuals create or claim obstacles to success prior to an important performance to excuse potential failure. The present research sought in four studies to document the anticipatory nature of self-handicapping, examining the role of prefactual (“what if …?”) thoughts in this strategy. Individuals prone to self-handicap were more likely to generate prefactuals, identifying ways to undermine their performance. Moreover, inducing individuals to consider these thoughts increased self-handicapping behavior, whereas focusing individuals on ways to improve their performance actually reduced self-handicapping behavior. Implications of this work for understanding the cognitive processes underlying self-handicapping behavior and for interventions that seek to minimize this self-defeating behavior are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.