13 January 2009

Self-handicapping isn't excused

The NY Times reports on a researcher that studied the ways people used excuses for performing below the expected standard. We've all heard someone say something like, "I did poorly on that test because I didn't get enough sleep." It starts out as a temporary excuse but becomes an addictive long-term problem:
As a short-term strategy, self-handicapping is often no more than an exercise in self-delusion. Studies of college students have found that habitual handicappers — who skip a lot of classes; who miss deadlines; who don’t buy the textbook — tend to rate themselves in the top 10 percent of the class, though their grades slouch between C and D.
On the other hand, I have had students who seemed to be single moms, wrecked their only car, constantly sick AND working 3 job (OK, maybe 2 of the four?), but found a way to attend every class and outperform their classmates. It seems like people who really want to succeed just find a way.


Puk said...

It's called attribution and children learn it from parents and teachers.

tonya said...

It is easier to learn than reading or math.