Stereotype threat and the role fragile self-esteem plays in self-handicapping
Caravalho, Amanda Lee
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The current study investigated the consequences of stereotype threat on self-handicapping in the context of an athletic task. Eighty-three participants completed two packets of questionnaires and performed a golf task under one of two conditions. It was hypothesized that White participants (n=66) with fragile self-esteem (i.e. high global self-esteem, high contingency, and high instability) would experience greater self-handicapping when in the threat condition where the task was framed as a test of an individual’s “natural athletic ability.” A significant three-way interaction, level of self-esteem by contingency by condition, was found to support this hypothesis thus implying the use of behavioral self-handicapping as a defensive mechanism in the threat condition. A second three-way interaction indicated that those with high global self-esteem and high instability when in the threat condition predicted they would do well thus suggesting more confidence and possibly overconfidence in their ability. The implications of both interactions are discussed.