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Individual Differences and Situational Factors in Perceptions of a Self-Handicapper

Individual Differences and Situational Factors in Perceptions of a Self-Handicapper

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Individual Differences and Situational Factors in Perceptions of a Self-Handicapper

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  1. Individual Differences and Situational Factors in Perceptions of a Self-Handicapper Bridgett Harsh Thanks to Ed Hirt and Sean McCrea

  2. Self-Handicapping • “Actively seeking or creating inhibitory factors that interfere with performance and thus provide a persuasive causal explanation for potential failure.” Arkin and Baumgardner (1985) • Examples: Reducing effort, choosing difficult goals, drug or alcohol use, and claims such as anxiety or shyness.

  3. Goals of Self-Handicapping • Discount ability as a determinant of poor performance • Augment ability as a determinant of good performance • Self-esteem (Jones and Berglas, 1978) • Impression management (Kolditz and Arkin, 1982)

  4. Efficacy • Self-Esteem • Wide range of experimental support for efficacy of self-handicapping in preserving self-esteem (Jones and Berglas (1978), McCrea and Hirt (2001), Rhodewalt, Morf, Hazlett and Fairfield (1991)). • Self-handicapping found to preserve personal evaluations of both performance in a specific domain and global self-esteem • Impression Management • Mixed results regarding effectiveness of self-handicapping as an impression management technique (Hirt, McCrea, Boris, 2001; Luginbuhl and Palmer, 1991; Rhodewalt, Sanbonmatsu, Tschanz, Feick, and Waller, 1995). • Handicapping has been found to reduce implications of failure on evaluations of ability however has also been found to have many interpersonal costs

  5. Luginbuhl and Palmer (1991) • Measured observers reactions (perceptions of ability and personal characteristics) to self-handicapper in 2 scenario studies • Subjects watch video about “John” who is studying for an exam. John gets study material from professor which will help him on exam. When leaving office sees Harry who invites him to a movie. John initially declines and tape either stopped (students infer he went to study) or continues with John changing mind and agreeing to go to the movie. Subjects informed of grade on exam (A,C,or F) and consistency of self-handicapping (usually, occasionally, never).

  6. Luginbuhl and Palmer (1991) Results • Subjects who viewed the SH target predicted a higher future test score than subjects who viewed the NSH target (SH target who got a C expected to do as well next time as NSH target who got an A; SH target who failed expected to do better than NSH target who got a C). • John’s knowledge of history and general intelligence also somewhat higher when SH than NSH especially when judged by males. • SH target seen as less motivated, less self-confident, and less desirable as study partner though.

  7. Hirt, McCrea, Boris (2001) • Use Luginbuhl and Palmer (1991) methodology (scenario of “Chris”) to examine effects of observer and target sex, self- versus other- initiated actions, and also motives inferred by observers.

  8. Hirt, McCrea, Boris (2001) findings • Found women judge SH more negatively than men however, all subjects judge negatively, particularly when self-initiated. Target sex had no impact. • When other-initiated, men more lenient in evaluations and show tendency to augment and discount. Women however, consistently rate SH poorly with no evidence of augmenting or discounting. • All subjects acknowledge SH has greater potential to do well in the future however females feel this potential will not be fulfilled.

  9. Discussion of Previous Research • Overall, found that SH seems to have several rather negative interpersonal costs, particularly when judged by a female observer. May result from women valuing effort and motivation more than men (Hirt, McCrea, Boris, 2001; McCrea et al., 2003). Women seem to view effort withdrawal as inexcusable across the board, even when some preparation has been done by the handicapper and the handicap is other-initiated.

  10. Present Research • This research seeks to examine the extent to which these negative evaluations of SH will occur across self-handicapping behaviors and to examine whether or not there are self-handicapping behaviors in which effort withdrawal will not be judged as harshly. • Within past research, examined behavior has been movies, drug use, etc. What if the behavior is more socially-desirable act such as performing a favor for a friend? • Also past research by Baumgardner and Levy (1998) found that when effort withdrawal was unintentional, targets were viewed more favorably than when withdrawal was intentional. This study attempts to replicate these findings and determine if gender differences occur.

  11. Methods – Independent Variables • 185 Male and 212 Female subjects [gender] were given the self-handicapping scale [SH median split]. • Experimental condition subjects were then given scenarios of “Chris” who self-handicapped through either attending amoviewith a friend or driving a friend (who could have gotten another ride) to the airport[handicap manip.]. He was either intentionally out all evening or had car trouble on his way home [intent]. Grade on exam was manipulated to be either an A or a D[outcome]. • Control subjects read that Chris was given study materials and went home to study. Only outcome (A or D) was manipulated.

  12. Perceived Ability of the target Attribution of the grade received to ability Perceived Future Potential of the Target Perceived Responsibility of the target Perceived Effort exerted by the target Attribution of the grade received to effort Overall “liking” for target (Comprised of an overall evaluation, sympathy for the target, liking of target, perceived similarity to target, and ability to relate to target) Dependent Variables

  13. Results – Outcome Effects • Main effects of outcome were found across evaluations. These effects were consistent with previous research and expectations.

  14. Results – Control vs. Handicapping • T-tests were performed comparing the control condition to the handicapping conditions for each of the variables and all were found to be significant.

  15. Intent F(1,277)=4.338, p<.05 (Higher ability rating given when unintentionally stayed out all night than when did so intentionally). Qualified by an interaction with handicap used. GenderXSHX Outcome effects also emerged (F(1,277)=4.364, p<.05) . Females tend to rate as having lower ability overall, particularly when low SH female. Low SH females less influenced by outcome. Results – Ability in the course

  16. Results - Future Potential • Future Exam Performance • Gender (F (1, 363) = 4.981, p<.05). • SH (F (1, 363) = 5.461, p<.025) • main effects indicated that males and high self-handicapping participants felt the target would perform better on future exams, were he to stay home and study, than did females and low self-handicapping participants. • Final Grade in Course • Intent (F (1, 263) = 4.271, p<.040). • participants felt Chris would receive a lower final grade in the course were his handicapping intentional rather than unintentional.

  17. The main effect of outcome (reported on a previous slide) was qualified by an interaction between handicap X outcome (F (1, 363) = 38.935, p<.001). SH target more responsible for D than A Control target more responsible for A than D Within handicapping conditions there was an interaction between Gender X Outcome F(1,277)=8.662, p<.01 Males felt Chris more responsible when failed For females more extreme difference between A and D Results - Responsibility

  18. Results – Liking • Main effects • Gender F (1, 276)=3.989, p < .01 (male Ss like Chris more than female Ss). • SHSsplit F (1, 276)=9.482, p < .01 (high SH Ss like Chris more than low SH Ss).

  19. Results – Liking Cont. • Interaction of Handicap and Gender F(1, 276)=3.851, p<.05 • For male Ss no handicap effect (p=.664). • For female Ss like target more when airport than movie (p=.006).

  20. Discussion • When the handicap is a socially-desirable act and when the handicap is unintentional, self-handicappers are judged less negatively overall, with higher ability prescribed and greater liking for these individuals by observers. • Judgments however still seem to be somewhat negative, with females still judging SH more negatively than males across several dimensions (responsibility for grade and future exam performance).

  21. Questions • Following this study a few issues are still somewhat unclear. • One question which arises from the findings discussed is why scores on the self-handicapping scale do not have a greater influence than they do? Gender seems to be a major factor however, tendency to self-handicap does not – this isn’t really what would be expected.

  22. Future Directions • These studies are scenario studies and so have some obvious limitations. One interesting line of future research is to examine whether in real life situations, subjects judge self-handicappers in the same manner. • If these evaluations occurred in real life situations it seems the social worlds of SH individuals would suffer. Can however imagine these people as being fun and social. • May be that in general self-handicapping is seen as something bad however, when it is someone you know, this behavior is excusable.