Self-Handicapping Processes and Sequelae

On the Taking of A Psychological Dive
  • C. R. Snyder
Part of the The Springer Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)

Abstract

One of my most vivid childhood memories centers around a playground ritual that I repeatedly faced. Because my family moved frequently, I found myself having to meet a new group of peers at the beginning of each school year. Being a grade-school male, a typical ceremony involved taking the new kid (me) to the local vacant lot and having him fight a string of other males until a place in the pecking order was established. After a few of these “educational” squirmishes in which I fought my way up through several bouts until I had settled somewhere in the middle of the “male hierarchy,” I struck upon a new strategy. Instead of beginning at the bottom of the fighting hierarchy, I somehow saw that there might be advantages in starting right at the top. In other words, I expressly asked to fight the biggest, meanest kid in the entire schoolyard. And, of course, he pounded on me until he tired of this activity. But, much to my delight, I found that I did not have to fight any more. So, as I had vaguely hoped would be the case, there were some advantages to my psychological dive. Indeed, by picking the toughest kid on the playground, I not only shortened the entire sequence into one fight, but I also found that I was able to preserve some semblance of esteem and control in this very difficult situation. After all, who could be expected to succeed against such a gorilla? And, however long I did last in such a fight seemed like such a valiant effort against insurmountable odds.

Keywords

Causal Linkage Negative Life Event Test Anxiety Personal Theory Social Psychology Bulletin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. R. Snyder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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