Gender differences in self handicapping: regardless of academic or social competence implications
Dorothee Dietrich, PhD, (Hamline University), 1995, 23(4), 403–410

How do we deal with failure? How do we avoid the feeling of failure? One fascinating way is described in Dietrich’s 1995 article on self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is defined as any behavior enhancing the opportunity to externalize failure and internalize success. Many people look for excuses to justify failures, and may even invite performance-inhibiting behaviors before a performance so they have a reason to look back and justify their substandard achievement. Dietrich investigated whether men and women self-handicap when their academic ability and social competence were challenged. The results were interesting: men consistently self-handicapped significantly more than women, and across both social and academic domains. It is suggested that men may have engaged in self-handicapping in order to preserve their competence image. I found this to be a noteworthy piece of research, as an example of how social psychology can uncover and help us understand behaviors we may not even realize we are displaying.

Alex Cheyne | Managing Editor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal