Today’s Social Psychology Minute, brough to us by Michael Bernstein…
Self-handicapping is a phenomenon where people consciously or subconsciously impede their own progress. One example that was discussed was a test in which participants were given a standardized test of some sort and then were interrupted halfway through. Each participant was individually told that they were, so far, doing the best on the test that the study organizers had ever seen. After being told that, they were offered a choice between taking two pills: one that would increase their performance on the test, and one that they were told would decrease their performance. The majority of participants chose the latter.
The idea behind this is that people self-handicap like this in an effort (conscious or not) to provide themselves with an excuse for poor performance.
Upon reflection, it seems that many graduate students and the MIT community as a whole may fall into this via procrastination.
Another thought on procrastination as self-handicapping - a recent fortune cookie of mine shared this wisdom:
Procrastination is the fear of success.