Self-Handicapping, Expected Evaluation, and Performance: Accentuating the Positive and Attenuating the Negative

Lawrence J. Sanna, Melvin Michael Mark

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Three studies investigated the influence of social- and self-evaluative motives on self-handicapping and performance. In each study, efficacy expectancies were manipulated by varying the difficulty of a preliminary task, and social- and self-evaluation were manipulated orthogonally. In Study 1, participants who self-handicapped performed better than those who did not when a positive or negative evaluation was expected, in some conditions. In Study 2, we used a situationally imposed handicap and found that both social- and self-evaluation participants showed improved performance in the presence of the handicap. In Study 3, when a positive or negative evaluation was expected, high self-handicappers performed better after choosing to self-handicap, for both social- and self-evaluative motives. Little evidence of self-handicapping or effects on subsequent performance was found for low self-handicappers. No evidence was found for self-handicapping among participants who could not be evaluated. Discussion centers around motives to self-handicap and implications for subsequent performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-102
Number of pages19
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1995


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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