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Br J Educ Psychol. 2011 Jun;81(Pt 2):207-22. doi: 10.1348/000709910X522186. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Academic self-handicapping: relationships with learning specific and general self-perceptions and academic performance over time.

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Department of Psychology, Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada.



Academic self-handicapping (ASH) tendencies, strategies students employ that increase their chances of failure on assessments while protecting self-esteem, are correlated with classroom goal structures and to learners' general self-perceptions and learning strategies. In particular, greater ASH is related to poorer academic performance but has yet to be examined with respect to learners' performance across a series of tests.


This research was designed to examine the relationship between students' ASH tendencies and their self-concept clarity, learning strategies, and performance on a series of tests in a university course.


A total of 209 (153 female; 56 male) Canadian university psychology students participated in this study.


Participants' ASH tendencies, self-concept clarity, approaches to learning, and self-regulatory learning strategies were assessed along with expected grades and hours of study in the course from which they were recruited. Finally, students' grades were obtained for the three tests for the course from which they were recruited.


Students reporting greater self-handicapping tendencies reported lower self-concept clarity, lower academic self-efficacy, greater test anxiety, more superficial learning strategies, and scored lower on all tests in the course. The relationships of ASH scores and learner variables with performance varied across the three performance indices. In particular, ASH scores were more strongly related to second and third tests, and prior performances were accounted for. ASH scores accounted for a relatively small but significant proportion of variance for all three tests.


These results showed that ASH is a unique contributing factor in student performance outcomes, and may be particularly important after students complete the initial assessment in a course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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