Research Abstract

Aguilar-Alcantar, J., Bautista, J., Daugherty, D., Dvorak, V., Heidari, S., Miller, A., & Scott, S. (2004, April). The relationship among academic self-handicapping, ego-control and self-esteem in a sample of university college students. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Thirty-Third Annual Western Psychology Conference for Undergraduate Research, Santa Clara, CA.

The goal of the present study was to better understand the relationship of academic self-handicapping (ASH; Murray & Warden, 1992) with self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1986), ego-control (Block n.d.), and academic performance measures in a sample of university college students. Participants (38 male and 115 female, mean age of 19.96) were of various ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds; all attended Vanguard University of Southern California. A self-handicap is a claimed or acquired impediment used to protect an individual’s desired self-image that interferes with performance as a causal explanation for failure; the goals of self-handicapping are to disregard ability as the causal factor for a poor performance and to embrace ability as the causal factor for success (Berglas & Jones, 1978). Self-handicapping has previously been shown to be negatively related to self-esteem (Zuckmerman, Kieffer, & Knee, 1998), GPA (Martin, Andrew, Marsh, Debus, & Raymond, 2001), and other measures of academic performance (Beck, Koons, & Milgram, 2000). The current study focused specifically on the domain of academic self-handicapping and additionally examined the construct of ego-control. Ego-control is generally defined as a theoretically motivated structure of personality implemented through the conceptualization of an individual’s cognitive processes; ego-control is related to the expression of impulsivity, emotional determination, and motivational tension (Block n.d.). After informed consent was obtained, a questionnaire packet containing demographic, self-esteem, ego control, and academic performance measures was administered to a sample of university students. Upon completion, each researcher collected the materials and participants were thanked for their participation. We hypothesized negative correlations between ASH and the following measures: self-esteem, ego-control, GPA, and questions related to academic preparation. The results supported the hypotheses, revealing significant negative correlations between ASH and self-esteem (r =-.332, p<.01), between ASH and ego-control (r = -.278, p<.01), between ASH and GPA (r = -.171, p<.05). Issues related to academic preparation will be discussed. These findings indicate that students who academically self-handicap are more likely to have a lower self-esteem, a lower GPA, and difficulty with ego-control compared to students who do not academically self-handicap. The findings may suggest strategies that students may use to improve their performance.