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Re-examining the effects of noncontingent success on self-handicapping behaviour

Citation

Thompson, T, Re-examining the effects of noncontingent success on self-handicapping behaviour, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74 pp. 239-260. ISSN 0007-0998 (2004) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1348/000709904773839860

Abstract

Background. Self-handicapping refers to the practice on the part of certain individuals to handicap their performance when poor performance is likely to reveal low ability. Noncontingent success (feedback that is inflated relative to performance) is more likely to promote self-handicapping behaviour than noncontingent failure (failure feedback based on false or misleading information). However, the reasons for the differing effects of these forms of performance feedback on self-handicapping behaviour remain obscure. Aims. The present study sought an explanation for the differing effects of these forms of performance feedback, testing the assumption that students high in self-handicapping behaviour would react more negatively following noncontingent success, reporting more unstable and external attributions, higher anxiety, and a greater propensity to claim handicaps than those low in self-handicapping behaviour. No differences were expected on any of these measures for high relative to low self-handicappers following either noncontingent failure or success. Sample. Participants were 72 undergraduate students, divided equally between high and low self-handicapping groups. Method. High and low self-handicappers were assigned to one of three performance feedback conditions: noncontingent failure, success and noncontingent success. High and low self-handicappers were then given an opportunity to claim handicaps prior to completing measures of attributions and state anxiety. Subsequently, they completed 12 remote associate tasks, serving as an assessment of performance, and 16 unicursal tasks, assessing practice effort. Results. Following noncontingent success, high self-handicappers reported greater anxiety, more unproductive attributions and claimed more handicaps than low self-handicappers. However no differences were evident for high and low self-handicappers following either noncontingent failure or success. High self-handicappers also performed poorly on the remote associates tasks and reduced practice effort on the unicursal tasks. Conclusions. These findings confirm the adverse effects of noncontingent success for high self-handicappers, while failing to provide evidence that noncontingent failure has any more adverse effects on high relative to low self-handicappers.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Research Group:Psychology
Research Field:Developmental Psychology and Ageing
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Author:Thompson, T (Dr Ted Thompson)
ID Code:32116
Year Published:2004
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2004-08-01
Last Modified:2011-09-27
Downloads:0

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