Two studies examined motivational influences on and correlates of defensive pessimism and self-handicapping and investigated the relationship between these two cognitive strategies and performance attainment. The findings indicated that defensive pessimism and self-handicapping have similar motivational profiles, with the primary difference being that self-handicapping represents the absence of approach motivation in the achievement domain, as well as the presence of avoidance motivation. Self-handicapping, but not defensive pessimism, was shown to undermine performance-attainment, and performance-avoidance goals were validated as mediators of this negative relationship. Issues regarding the functional nature of the two cognitive strategies are discussed.