Self Handicapping And Behavioural Pattern Among Undergraduates

Self-handicapping is creating or claiming obstacles to successful performance in order to protect the sense of self-competence. Self-handicapping behaviors decrease the probability of success; however, they enable individuals to cover up their failures by creating handy excuses instead of facing the real cause, which is the lack of ability. Specific failure is related with a given task, but global failure is related with intellect or personality. For self-handicappers, avoiding global failure is more important than avoiding specific failure. If a self-handicapper performs poorly in an evaluative situation, she/he can explain the poor performance by using the impediment rather than incompetence. If she/he performs successfully despite the impediment, her/his competence is enhanced. For example, a student goes to a cinema the night before the exam rather than studying. If he does not do well in the exam, he can present the cause as lack of studying. In this way, he obscures the lack of ability or intelligence. If he performs well, he may infer that he is intelligent or has ability because he succeeds in the exam without studying.


Self-handicapping is defined in diverse ways by numerous research scholars, majority of them concured that self-handicapping includes generating obstructions to auspicious task performance that the learner thinks prominent. Self-handicapping provides the chance to individual to protect his frail image by internalize triumph and externalize defeat. Mostly, the impediment is considered as external, but sometime as internal to the self-handicapper, not including their potentialities and capabilities. Self-handicapping includes generating inhibitions/ hindrances to performance for enhancing or securing one’s perceived potentialities. Self-handicapping consists of actions that happen before or concurrently with the task of achievement, not afterwards the task has happened. Illustrations of academic self-handicapping comprise procrastinating, asserting illness or test anxiety and effort withdrawal


Managing student behaviour in an online course isn’t that different from a faceto-face classroom. As the instructor, you have a major role to play in setting the appropriate tone. An online course tends to be less instructor-dominated than traditional classrooms and the dynamics and interaction can be very exciting. However, even online, problems can develop from the inappropriate behaviour of an individual, or the lack of planning on the part of the instructor. Starting the course with an introduction exercise is an excellent way to set the tone for the course and allow learners to get to know each other in a non-stressful forum. Ask each learner to post a short bio to the discussion forum, giving a little of their personal backgrounds, what they want to get out of the course, what their previous studies were and some of their recent work history, if appropriate. Then ask each learner to respond to one other learner’s introduction. This short exercise will be of significant benefit when you set up groups for group assignments.


Self-handicapping emerges in various ways. It can be behavioral (waiting until the very last minute to perform a task) or verbal (saying that the health problems have affected the performance). Behavioral strategies generate a far greater risk of failure than do verbal strategies. Self-handicapping affects the performance in the end. Individuals posit an excuse before the tasks, or in advance of the performance at that point. They may also make informed explanations for their behaviors. Self-handicapping is much related to academic performance and to the learning types of students. A positive correlation was determined between self-handicapping and negative variables such as depression and anxiety, a low feeling of self-determination and low self-esteem, low performance tendencies, low academic success, the external locus of control and academic procrastination. As an instructor I conducted an experiment on self handicapping among my students before their undergraduate projects research exercise; this was how I did it.  At the beginning of the term, I evaluated the undergraduates in terms of attribution types and personal differences in self-evaluation. Before the first exam, I allowed the students to express the factors that could handicap their performances in the exam. As a result, a relationship between self-handicapping and gender was determined. Male students stated that they were handicapped before the exam by their high levels of self-handicapping and after their poor performances in the exam, and receiving feedback; they attributed the failure to external reasons. The relationship between a self-handicapping tendency and posing excuses/obstacles and the performance attributes for the female students was lower when compared with that of the male students.


Self-handicapping is one of the most recurring phenomenon among undergraduate students in Nigeria. Self handicapping affect both behavioural pattern and performance of undergraduate students. Let us use this for quick illustration. Some group of students went for a football tournament organized by a neighboring university; the tournament lasted for 2 weeks; after the tournament the students have just 3 days to prepare for their departmental examination. Most of the students were exhausted from fatigue incurred from the tournament. One of the student ended not reading at all. After the examination, the student passed. This made the students feel they can always pass their examination even without studying much. They begin to develop negative attitude towards their studies. Their behavioural pattern was believed to have negative effect on other student.  




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