EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Personality traits and gender effect on athletes and non-athletes self-
handicapping strategies over time
Nikola Prpa1
‹ The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access.
Abstract
me. The effect of gender on self-handicapping is
not significant, but there was a statistically
The aim of this research was to examine differences
significant interaction effect of gender and
in the use of self-handicapping strategies in athletes
population on self-handicapping behaviour. It
and non-athletes, changes in self-handicapping
indicates that male non-athletes are more prone to
strategies that can occur with the approach of an
self-handicapping
10 days before an important
important event, and the relationships between these
competition (exam or public speaking for general
strategies and personality traits, gender, and some
population, or “game of the season” for sporting
external criteria such as performance. The sample
population) compared to male athletes. These
included
183 subjects
(mean age
21.16 years)
results, apart from the gender differences, are
consisting of
102 non-athletes and
81 athletes.
consistent with the results of previous studies.
Three questionnaires were used: VP+2, for
Limitations of this research and possible directions
measuring personality dimensions of seven-factor
for future studies were also considered.
model, SH-17, for the assessment of changes in the
use of self-handicapping strategies through time and
Keywords self-handicapping strategygeneral
a general biographical questionnaire. A general
linear modelseven-factor personality model
linear model for repeated measures was used for
data analysis. Significant correlation was found
between self-handicapping strategies and the
number of medals and awards won at international
Introduction
and domestic competitions. The results also showed
a positive correlation between self-handicapping
An athlete's identity is largely based on their
strategies and dimensions of Neuroticism and
sporting achievements. Professional athletes also
Extraversion and negative with Conscientiousness.
regularly experience failure, often under the public
Also, a statistically significant difference in the use
eye. Professional athletes are subjected to constant
of self-handicapping strategies was found between
public scrutiny and pressured to achieve success,
athletes and non-athletes, showing that non-athletes
which emphasizes the importance of behavioral
express more self-handicapping behaviour. The
strategies employed to maintain self-image and
results indicate that the frequency of self-
self-esteem. One of such strategies is self-
handicapping behaviour does not change through ti-
handicapping (Berglas & Jones, 1978), which has
been thoroughly examined both in athletes and
non-athletes (e.g., Prapavessis, Grove, & Eklund,
2004; Urdan & Midgley,
2001). However, a
nikolaprpa@yahoo.com
modest number of studies have examined the
1
University of Thessaly, Greece
differences in self-handicapping tendencies
between athletes and non-athletes, or the effect of
personality traits and gender on self-handicapping
in the context of an approaching failure.
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
Self-handicapping is a cognitive strategy that
Although statistically significant, these results
represents any action or choice that will protect one's
should be interpreted with caution because of the
self-esteem by exempting a person from personal
relatively modest sample size (29 participants), which
responsibility for failure (Kolditz & Arkin, 1982).
included athletes from only two individual sports.
Thus, behaviors that may be considered as forms of
Additionally, according to the author, it is not clear
self-handicapping are numerous. Such behaviors
how university athletes perceive a failure in the
include alcohol or drug abuse
(Arkin &
competition, since sport performance does not affect
Baumgardner,
1985), hypochondriacal complaints
their status as students in any case (Bailis, 2001).
(Smith, Snyder, & Perkins,
1983), obesity
Speaking of which, not only that benefits of self-
(Baumeister, Kahn, & Tice, 2001), ill will, lack of
handicapping are often only short-term, but results of
sleep, inventing excuses (Higgins, Snyder, & Berglas,
several other studies suggest that there is a negative
1990), lack of effort (Snyder et al., 1981 by Nicin,
correlation between behavioral strategies and sports
2010), too much effort when it can reduce the
performance (Hirt, Deppe, & Gordon, 1991; Leary &
likelihood of success (Smith, Hardy, & Arkin, 2009),
Shepperd,
1986; Coudevylle, Martin Ginis, &
procrastination (Ferrari & Tice, 2000), etc. Although
Famose, 2008).
all these behaviors form two main categories of self-
A possible explanation for these inconsistent
handicapping named behavioral and claimed self-
results lies in distinguishing the effects of behavioral
handicapping
(Leary & Sheppard,
1986), extant
and claimed self-handicapping strategies on sports
literature usually focused on single self-handicapping
success. Behavioral strategies are "useful" for athletes
score that comprised indicators of both types.
because they are highly visible and leave desirable
The tendency to self-handicap occurs more
and strong impression on the viewers, but their
frequently in situations where people estimate that
drawback is that they can actually lead to failure and
their performance will be evaluated by others (Arkin
prevent the athlete from achieving goals. Therefore,
& Baumgardner, 1985), hence sport setting would be
it seems plausible they are negatively associated with
a good place to examine self-handicapping. Indeed,
sports success (Hirt, Deppe, & Gordon, 1991; Leary
one of the first experiments showed that swimmers
& Shepperd, 1986). On the other hand, claimed
who were more prone to self-handicapping actually
strategies may have beneficial effect on the
swam better the next race after being misinformed
performance by reducing the pressure for perfect
about their previous results, because they were able to
performance (Ryska, Yin, & Cooley, 1998).
“explain” poor swimming in the first race (Seligman
One study on self-efficacy and self-esteem as
et al.,
1990). Reduction of anxiety, self-esteem
predictors of self-handicapping in basketball,
protection, maintenance of positive affect despite the
suggests that claimed self-handicapping strategies are
experience of failure, and increase in intrinsic
negatively correlated with self-esteem, while
motivation, are among the positive effects of self-
behavioral strategies are negatively correlated with
handicapping
(Deppe & Harackiewicz,
1996;
self-efficacy
(Coudevylle, Martin Guinness, &
Drexler, Ahens & Haaga, 1995 by Bailis, 2001;
Famose,
2008). The results were in line with
Rhodewalt et al., 1991 by Bailis, 2001; Tice, 1991).
expectations that athletes with lesser self-esteem
What is more, results of one comprehensive
cannot risk potential failure due to the use of
“cost/benefit” analysis in college sports concluded
behavioral strategies, but they still cope with possible
that the use of self-handicapping strategies has more
failure by using claimed strategies
(Martin &
positive than negative effects
(Bailis,
2001). For
Brawley, 2002). Related to this, athletes with less
instance, even though self-handicapping strategies
pronounced self-efficacy can allow themselves to use
were associated with certain negative phenomena
behavioral strategies because they are “confident”
such as lack of exercise and less adequate nutrition of
that failure is surely coming
(Pyszczynsky &
athletes, more pronounced tendency towards self-
Greenberg, 1983). However, these results should be
handicapping strategies was associated with better
considered with caution due to the sample size (31
sports results. In addition, athletes who were more
participants).
prone to self-handicapping strategies later reported
better subjective experience of optimal performance
The usage of self-handicapping strategies over
regarding their sporting activities, both for important
time was the focus of one study in swimming
and less important events.
(Rhodewalt, Saltzman, & Wittmer, 1984). The main
result suggests that throughout a competitive season,
athletes who are less prone to self-handicapping tend
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
to gradually increase training and preparation before
interpersonal relationships and in terms of
important competition, while the athletes with a high
achievement, whereas low score on Activity (ZKPQ)
propensity to self-handicapping continue to train with
significantly predicted self-handicapping in the field
the same intensity
(type of behavioral self-
of accomplishments
(Colovic, Smederevac, &
handicapping). Additionally, these two groups did not
Mitrovic, 2009).
differ when it comes to reports about physiological
Some studies also related self-handicapping to
problems (type of claimed self-handicapping). There
many other personality constructs that can be
are no other studies that investigated the usage of self-
somewhat part of the central traits. For example, there
handicapping strategies over time.
is a positive correlation between expectations of
Self-Handicapping and gender differences
failure
(which are commonly attributed to
Neuroticism) and self-handicapping (Nurmi, 1993 by
In general, men tend to use self-handicapping
Ross, Canada, & Rausch, 2002; Weary & Williams,
strategies more than women
(e.g., Colovic,
1990), and positive correlation between self-
Smederevac, & Mitrovic,
2009; McCrea, Hirt,
handicapping and negative affect
(Zuckerman,
Hendrix, Milner, & Steele, 2008; McCrea, Hirt, &
Kieffer, & Knee, 1998). Also, some authors suggest
Milner,
2008). More specifically, some results
that self-handicapping can be viewed as personality
suggest that males are more prone to behavioral
trait, such as Perfectionism. Perfectionists pay great
strategies (alcohol abuse, procrastination etc.), while
attention to every detail as they prepare for the task
gender differences in claimed self-handicapping were
and the inefficiency in the completion of the task they
not found (Arkin & Baumgartner, 1985; McCrea et
interpret as their need to achieve perfect performance
al., 2008; Leary & Shepperd, 1986).
(Hobden & Pliner, 1995).
Self-Handicapping and personality traits
There are no published studies that have sought to
Previously conducted studies suggest a significant
compare the use of self-handicapping strategies in
relationship
of
self-handicapping
strategies,
athletes and non-athletes. The contradictory findings
procrastination and the five-factor model personality
of earlier studies on the benefits of self-handicapping
traits, in the way that there is a negative correlation
in professional sport point to the importance of this
between self-estimated
procrastination
and
issue (e.g., Bailis, 2001; Coudevylle, Martin Ginis, &
Conscientiousness, and positive correlation with
Famose, 2008). Another important aspect of self-
Neuroticism
(Johnson
& Bloom,
1995;
handicapping to be explored is the change in self-
Schouwenburg & Lay, 1995). One study confirmed
handicapping use over time, as important competition
such results, and concluded that the construct of self-
approaches. On top of that, there is a room for
handicapping is the mediator of a negative
clarification and additional research on relationships
relationship
between Conscientiousness and
between personality traits, athletic success, gender,
Neuroticism from the revised NEO-PI-R personality
and self-handicapping strategies. Therefore, the main
inventory (Ross, Canada, & Rausch, 2002).
aim of this research is to examine the differences in
self-handicapping strategies between athletes and
Similar results were obtained using other
non-athletes within the context of an approaching
personality inventories, as well as in cross-cultural
important event. The relationship between self-
studies. Pulford et al. (2005) confirmed the positive
handicapping and personality traits, gender, and sport
correlation between Neuroticism and self-
success will also be examined.
handicapping, and the negative correlation between
self-handicapping and Conscientiousness with a
sample consisting of British and Libyan students. In
Method
one Croatian study, Neuroticism from The Big Five
model proved to be the most important predictor of
The sample included
183 subjects
(44.26%
self-handicapping usage, and Introversion is
extracted as the second most significant predictor
professional athletes), of which 102 participants were
(Burusic, 2004 by Nicin, 2010). Next, Serbian authors
females (55.7%) and 81 (44.3%) males. Specifically,
found that Neuroticism (ZKPQ) is a strong predictor
62 participants were female non-athletes, 40 male
of both self-handicapping strategies in different
non-athletes, 40 female athletes and 41 male athletes.
settings. Impulsive sensation seeking (ZKPQ) proved
Sample members of general population comprised
to be a significant predictor of self-handicapping in
first-year students, and the sports population
consisted of athletes who compete at the highest or
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
second highest possible ranking competitions of the
response format is a five point Likert-type scale. The
Republic of Serbia. Athletes practicing individual
use of self-handicapping strategies is assessed at three
sports (41 athletes) and team sports (40 athletes) are
stages:
10 days before an important event, 1 day
equally represented in the sample. Sports included in
before and a few hours before an important event.
the study were shooting, volleyball, soccer,
Therefore, the participants “retrospectively” assessed
swimming, basketball, athletics and judo.
the frequency of these behaviors ten days before an
important event, the day before an important event
Ages ranged from 15 to 49 years (M = 21.16, SD
and a few hours before an important event.
= 4.42). The mean age for non-athletes was 20.69 and
Additionally, the questionnaire contains three
for athletes 21.75 years. Male athletes were older than
questions about the experience of success and failure
female athletes (22.83 to 20.65 years), same as in the
with ten point Likert-type scales, but those items were
general population (21.97 to 19.85).
not used in this study. The questionnaire was created
Measures
in two forms with instructions and questions adjusted
for athletes or students (a.k.a. members of general
Big Five Plus Two questionnaire - short version
population). The main difference is in the description
(BF+2; Colovic, Smederevac, & Mitrovic, 2014). The
of an important event, which is a
“game of the
BF+2 is a self-report measure of the seven major
season” for the athletes, and an important exam at the
dimensions of personality and contains a total of 70
university or public performance for non-athletes.
items (10 items for each dimension) rated on a 5-point
Internal consistency of the scales was satisfactory
scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”.
(Cronbach’s Alphas ranged from 0.75 to 0.76).
The psychometric properties of the scales proved to
be very good. Sampling adequacy was very good or
The survey was conducted during March and
excellent
(normalized
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin’s
April 2013. in Novi Sad, Serbia. Questionnaires were
coefficient ranged from 0.83 to 0.91), as well as
administered anonymously to groups of participants.
reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha ranged from .78 to .91).
Participants were not tested before an important
competition. It took approximately 30 minutes to set
General biographical information questionnaire
instructions and complete the questionnaires.
(Prpa,
2013). The questionnaire contains several
general questions about the participant: gender, age,
A General Linear Model for Repeated Measures
sport participated in and for how long (if applicable),
was applied, with grouping variables named
and two questions on the number of medals and
Population
(with the categories: individual sport,
awards in national and international competitions.
team sport or non-athlete) and Gender
(Male/Female). Continuous predictors
(covariates)
Self-handicapping questionnaire
(SH-17; Prpa,
were scores on seven personality traits
(summed
Smederevac & Colovic, 2013). The idea and the need
scores of respondents' answers to items of VP+2
for development of this questionnaire has come on the
questionnaire), as well as two predictors of sport
basis of criticism of original Self-Handicapping Scale
success: the number of medals in national and
(Jones & Rhodewalt, 1982), in which some authors
international competitions. Dependent variables were
claim that the existing scale is not applicable to the
the three dependent measures of self-assessment of
assessment of self-handicapping in areas other than
self-handicapping throughout time (summed scores
academic achievement (Martin & Brawley, 1999).
of responses to the items related to the 10 days before,
Besides, our aim was to examine the changes in the
1 day before and a few hours before competition).
use of self-handicapping strategies with potential
Given that the instruction was to evaluate the use of
failure approaching. The questionnaire contains 17
self-handicapping strategies in three chronologically
items, describing behaviors which were shown to be
arranged times, it is possible to say that the answers
self-handicapping strategies in both athletes and non-
to these three variables represent three levels of
athletes
(Finez & Sherman,
2012; Coudevylle,
classic repeated measurements. All data processing
Gernigon,& Martin Ginis, 2011; Coudevylle, Martin
was performed in the statistical software SPSS and
Ginis,& Famose 2008; Kuczka & Treasure, 2005,
Statistica for Windows.
Martin & Brawley, 2002). The first nine items and the
last item describe behavioral strategies
(e.g.,
“Sometimes I skip practices ahead of important
competition”), while the remaining six items measure
claimed strategies (e.g., “Sometimes I feel sick or
exhausted in front of important competition”). The
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
Results
Additionally, isolated effect of the measurement
(change of self-handicapping throughout time) was
not statistically significant, too (F(2, 6)=0.16, p=0.86;
In order to examine relations between self-
Wilks’ Λ=0.998). In other words, there was no
handicapping strategies, personality traits, gender,
statistically significant difference in the propensity to
and sport success, a general linear model for repeated
self-handicapping in the situation 10 days before the
measures was applied. The results show that the
competition, one day before and a few hours before
number of international awards/medals had a
an important competition.
significant multivariate effect on self-handicapping
(F (1, 826)=5.68, p=0.02; Wilks’ Λ=0.983), while the
Multivariate interaction effect of gender and
multivariate effect of the number of medals in
population
(sporting/non-sporting)
was not
national competitions was not significant. Three
statistically significant, but the examination of
personality dimensions had significant multivariate
univariate effects showed statistically significant
effects: Neuroticism
(F(1,
4178)=28.75, p<0.001;
joint effect of gender and population at 10 days before
Wilks’ Λ=0.982), Conscientiousness
(F(1,
867)=
an important competition. While male non-athletes
5.96, p=0.02; Wilks’ Λ=0.984) and Extraversion
are more prone to self-handicapping than females,
(F(1, 828)=5.69, p=0.02; Wilks’ Λ=0.999). Effect of
female athletes tend to be more prone to self-
belonging to the sporting or non-sporting population
handicapping than males. The effect of this
in relation to self-handicapping strategies over time is
interaction is clearly depicted in Figure 1.
significant also (F(1, 1503)=10.34, p=0.002; Wilks’
Λ=0.968). Gender differences were not statistically
significant (F(1, 17)=0.11, p=0.74; Wilks’ Λ=0.980).
Figure1. Interaction Effect of Gender and Population in the usage of SH 10 days before competition.
Looking at the obtained univariate effects, another
statistically significant at the level of the first
statistically significant effect is that of medals/awards
measurement, 10 days before an important event.
won in national competitions. This effect was only
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
Table 1. Multiple correlation coefficients
Dependent variables
Multiple R Multiple R2 Adjusted R2
F
p
10 days before
0.595
0.354
0.296
6.115
0.000
1 day before
0.608
0.370
0.314
6.559
0.000
Few hours before
0.621
0.385
0.330
7.005
0.000
Table 1 shows correlations between the criteria
The following tables show the estimates of partial
(self-handicapping measured in
3 occasions) and
contributions of predictors (VP+2 scales, objective
predictor set, which included
7 personality
measures of success, the independent variables
dimensions,
number
of
awards
in
(gender and population), the interaction between
international/domestic competition and gender.
gender and population) at the levels of the repeated
Multiple correlation coefficients are statistically
measurements. Only significant effects are shown. It
significant for all 3 levels of the dependent variable
is evident that as time to an important competition
(p <0.001).
goes by, number of predictors is getting smaller.
Table 2. Parameter estimates for 10 days before competition
Variables
β
t
p
Number of medals in national competitions
0.188
2.000
0.047
Number of medals in international competitions
-0.246
-2.623
0.010
Neuroticism
0.353
3.928
0.000
Conscientiousness
-0.226
-2.613
0.010
Population (level: non-athletes)
0.171
2.049
0.042
Gender * Population
-0.155
-2.126
0.035
Table 3. Parameter estimates for 1 day before
Variables
β
t
p
Number of international awards
-0.209
-2.260
0.025
Extraversion
0.222
2.251
0.026
Neuroticism
0.436
4.906
0.000
Conscientiousness
-0.200
-2.345
0.020
Population (level: non-athletes)
0.225
2.736
0.007
Table 4. Parameter estimates for few hours before an important event
Variables
β
t
p
Extraversion
0.219
2.245
0.026
Neuroticism
0.478
5.448
0.000
Population (level: non-athletes)
0.307
3.781
0.000
strategies that can occur with the approach of an
important event, as well as the relationships between
Discussion
these strategies and personality traits, gender, and
some external criteria such as performance. The
The aim of this research was to examine differences
obtained results show that the frequency of self-
in the use of self-handicapping strategies in athletes
handicapping behaviour does not change through
and non-athletes, changes in self-handicapping time. Next, the results indicate that there is a
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
statistically
significant
relationship
between
Neuroticism implies proneness towards negative
personality traits Neuroticism, Conscientiousness and
emotions, which may influence the expectation of
Extraversion, and the self-handicapping strategies.
failure in the competition, and therefore may trigger
Also, there is a significant relationship between the
the need for protection from the negative feedback by
use of self-handicapping strategies and athletic
self-handicapping.
success,
whether sporting performance is
Extraversion
and Conscientiousness
are
operationalized by the number of medals / prizes won
significant predictors on the two of 3 different levels
in domestic competitions or in international
of measurement, and this result might be explained in
competitions. Finally, a statistically significant
the context of “the structured situation thesis” and
multivariate effect of population affiliation (sports /
with knowledge of these dimensions. Extraversion
general) on self-handicapping was obtained, i.e.,
becomes a significant predictor on the level 1 day
there is significant difference in the use of self-
before and has a stable effect until the start of the
handicapping strategies between professional athletes
competition. Conscientiousness is a good predictor of
and non-athletes. Gender differences were not
the usage of self-handicapping over a period of 10
statistically significant.
days before up to
1 day before an important
The results suggest that the proneness to self-
competition. Given that a sports competition is a
handicapping does not change as the important event
structured situation with clearly stated rules which all
approaches. This result points to the conclusion that
competitors have to comply with, it is likely that
the circumstances do not play a crucial role in the
Conscientiousness will not have a significant effect
employment of self-handicapping strategies.
on such a uniform pattern of behavior. However, the
Therefore, this tendency is probably a stable
situation which occurs few hours before the
construct. However, although the overall proneness to
competition may provoke extroverted persons to seek
self-handicapping does not change, it appears that a
stimulation in other people, chat with them or make
number of self-handicapping predictors tends to
friendships, which actually is one of the self-
decrease over time. Ten days before the competition
handicapping strategies. Extroverted participants
the use of self-handicapping strategies is affected by
make active efforts to connect to other people and do
6 statistically significant predictors
(medals in
not react to loneliness well, which may further affect
national/international competitions, Neuroticism,
the appearance of self-handicapping behavior in
Conscientiousness, belonging to the population and
situations just before the competition. Consequently,
the effect of the interaction of Gender and
Extroverts can engage themselves in sensation-
Population), at 1 day prior to the competition that
seeking as a form of compensation for potential
number drops to 5, while at the level of a few hours
failure in the competition, while the participants with
before an important competition the number of
low scores on Conscientiousness may provide the
predictors is 3. Therefore, although self-handicapping
“alibi” with irresponsibility and unreliable behaviors,
appears to be unaffected by the proximity of an
but only at the level of few days before an important
important event, several predictors obviously
competition. The negative correlation between
influence the tendency to employ self-handicapping
Conscientiousness and Self-handicapping is in
strategies. This is a novel finding that requests
accordance with previous findings (e.g., Pulford et
additional empirical support, since there are no
al., 2005).
previous studies conducted with this research
An important finding of this study is that on the all
question in scope.
stages of measurement, non-athletes are more prone
Neuroticism impacts the use of self-handicapping
to use self-handicapping strategies than the athletes.
strategies in all three stages of measurement. This
There are no studies that clearly speak in favor of
result is consistent with previous studies in the
either group, but the expectation based on previous
general population (e.g., Ross, Canada, & Rausch,
studies was that athletes would be more prone to self-
2002; Colovic, Smederevac & Mitrovic,
2009).
handicapping. A possible explanation of such a result
Influence of Neuroticism on the use of self-
is that the level of professionalism of today's athletes
handicapping can be observed even in a small period
excludes self-handicapping behavior. Besides,
of time before the competition. Persons who score
athletes are more often exposed to situations of
high on Neuroticism tend to perceive greater number
competition in relation to the general population, so it
of stimuli as threatening, so it probably affects the
is very likely that athletes are accustomed to these
perception of information related to the contest. High
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EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
situations and do not tend to see them as threatening
female athletes got higher scores than male athletes.
to self-esteem.
Although the differences are stable
(the same
direction in all three measurements), statistically
There’s a somewhat contradictory result when it
significant difference is only in male athletes and
comes to success. Participants with a larger number
non-athletes at the level of
10 days prior to the
of medals in domestic competitions are more prone to
competition, where, as already mentioned, male non-
the use of self-handicapping
10 days before an
athletes used more self-handicapping strategies than
important competition in relation to participants with
male athletes.
less success in that competitions, while the
relationship is reversed for success in international
The most important limitation of this study is that
competitions. This result may be related to the degree
dependent measures were not derived from real
of professionalism of contestants. National
repeated measurements. A study design is not a
competitions, at least in Serbia, usually gather young
typical design with repeated measurements, but it
and inexperienced athletes, contrary to international
certainly implied dependent samples, because
competitions. Similar results were found in several
changes in self-handicapping were measured within
studies which were conducted on samples of student-
subjects. It would be convenient to repeat the study
athletes who competed on a national level, and where
using classical repeated measures design. Although
positive correlations between success and self-
the number of athletes in this study was well above
handicapping were found (e.g., Bailis, 2001). It is
the number shown in previous studies (even the
likely that participation in international competitions
professionalism of athletes, since majority of
requires a higher degree of professionalism, and
previous studies were conducted on collegiate level
therefore less opportunity and / or need to use self-
or youth sport athletes), a sample of 180 respondents
handicapping strategies. Such a conclusion is
was relatively modest for the statistical analysis used
supported by the stable negative effect of a number of
in this study, so all the results, even statistically
medals in international competitions over time on the
significant should be taken with prudence.
use of self-handicapping strategies. However, the
According to Rhodewalt et al.
(1984) self-
effect of measures of success disappears at the level
handicapping strategies, particularly behavioral ones,
of a few hours before competition, most likely
should be more evident in individual sports compared
because there is clear effect of situation proximity
to team sports, because teammates will influence one
where previous successes do not play an important
another to stop it. They also state that the players
role in the preparation for the competition.
themselves will stop, due to not wanting to leave their
Gender differences in the use of self-handicapping
teammates "in a lurch". It would be appropriate to
strategies are not statistically significant. Gender
examine this claim in a future study, because
differences didn’t prove to be statistically significant
individual sport players are also competing for a club
in the sub-samples of athletes and non-athletes as
and have a contractual and moral obligations to the
well. This result is not fully consistent with previous
club. Hence, the directions for future studies would
studies. Generally, findings in the field of sports
be to distinguish between the athletes who train
psychology suggest that professional sportsmen and
individually and team sports, as well as to distinguish
sportswomen are more homogeneous with regard to
between behavioral and claimed strategies.
many psychological variables than it is the case in the
If we had a clear picture of what the usage of self-
general population. Among others, Williams
handicapping looks like with the approach of
confirmed that for assertiveness, dominance,
potential failure, we could predict the behavior of
independence, aggressiveness and aloofness
individuals in a large period of time when preparing
(Williams, 1980 by Cox, Peranovic, & Skevin, 2005).
for the competition, which would certainly have an
With that in mind, almost half of our sample is made
impact on the outcome of the competition. These
of athletes, so it is appropriate to assume that this is a
results may be important for sports psychologists
potential cause of failure to obtain a statistically
working on reducing the use of self-handicapping
significant difference. Here, we should point out a
strategies.
finding that there is a significant interaction effect of
gender and population. Male non-athletes achieve
higher scores on a scale of self-handicapping at all
three levels of measurement than female non-athletes,
while in the sports population the case is reversed:
12
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 5-14
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