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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.