Why Do You Sabotage Yourself Before a Big Test? | Self-Handicapping

Why Do You Sabotage Yourself Before a Big Test? | Self-Handicapping

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00:00
[Music] let's say you got a big test tomorrow and it's a big chunk of your final grade so what should you do study or binge watch some Netflix procrastination getting a hangover or putting on music so loud that it's hard to concentrate those all seem like pretty solid ways to sabotage your success so psychologists consider them forms of self handicapping now self-handicapping seems like a pretty bad idea but we still do it anyway and that could be because it's a handy excuse if things don't go so well
00:30
so you can blame something other than you and your own skills self handicapping is fairly common though some of us do it more than others and research has to find two types there's behavioral self-handicapping when you actively do things like go out to a party or don't do things like study which hurt your chances of success or there's claimed self-handicapping like saying you're tired anxious or sick these are reports of something that happened or how you're not feeling your best self-handicapping doesn't just apply to tests at school either it can pop up anytime your performance is
01:02
evaluated whether it's sports or worker uploading a YouTube video or coming up with funny captions when you're playing jack box games and trying to impress your friends most scientists think self-handicapping has to do with protecting yourself from negative things it's basically an excuse so you don't feel bad about yourself or so other people don't think badly of your performance for example one study by researchers at the University of wisconsin-madison in 1996 had a hundred and thirty-five male undergraduates play a pinball game before coming to the study they had filled out a survey about
01:34
their habits so researchers knew if they tended to be high or low self handicappers for instance if you agree with statements like when I do something wrong my first impulse is to blame the circumstances and I would do a lot better if I tried harder you might be higher on that scale at that study some participants were told that they'd be competing against another person in another room for the highest score others were not then they were all given a chance to practice a helpful reaction time task before playing pinball as
02:04
expected high self handicappers practiced less than low self handicappers overall but of the high self handicappers who thought they were competing and therefore being evaluated the folks who didn't practice very much had the most fun they also rated their own abilities higher so behavioral self-handicapping seemed to let them blame any mistakes on not practicing rather than on their actual abilities they could hold on to some amount of like I'm not terrible at pinball like I still am valuable feeling this logic makes sense in a lot of
02:35
situations like it's harder to handle a bad score on a math test when you tried really hard than if you watched a whole season of RuPaul's Drag Race the night before you might regret staying up so late but at least you can still feel like you're okay at math and psychologists have found how you feel matters a lot when it comes to self handicapping for instance if you feel positively about yourself being evaluated might not be so threatening but people with lower self esteem are more likely to self handicap both behavioral and claim the same goes for people who are low at self-efficacy the
03:07
belief that you can do a task well and in people who are lower in self compassion treating yourself with kindness when faced with difficulties and accepting your mistakes might also have a certain time of day when you tend to be at your best like your biological clock might make you more of an early bird or a night owl turns out you're more likely to behaviorally self handicap at your peak time which kind of makes sense since if you're a night person and you have an 8:00 a.m. exam you've already got a built-in excuse so now let's talk about excuses make self-handicapping sound like definitely
03:38
a bad thing and some research has found that we tend to negatively judge people who claim self handicaps though it does depend on the excuse for instance 1 1995 experiment at the University of Utah had undergrads write funny cartoon captions and rate each other and saying you just didn't try very hard was worse than saying that cough medicine made you tired so can you do anything to stop self-handicapping the good news is yes probably though more research needs to be done because it's a complicated thing a set of 3 studies in 2011 looked at
04:09
German students whose self-reported goals and those researchers found that you can sort of protect against self-handicapping if you focus on mastering a skill rather than an achievement like getting good grades so basically just do things the exact opposite of how the education system is set up when you focus on learning getting something wrong isn't such a big deal because it's normal to make mistakes in self-affirmation might also help thinking about something that matters to you or how you've done well at something else in the past can help you feel better and not self handicapped
04:40
as much so just look in the mirror and say Hank your eyebrows look great for example one 2005 study at Rutgers University had students do a business aptitude test doing a self affirmation by writing about something important to them like social issues or economics reduced self-handicapping so self-handicapping is common and maybe not a completely bad thing but it can definitely make it harder to do your best but there are also a bunch of ways to work on feeling good about yourself instead of binging shows on Netflix
05:10
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05:40
out unless you're very close friends [Music]

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