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The Relationship Between Academic Identity and Self-Handicapping

  • Author(s): Carlisle, Brandon Lamare
  • Advisor(s): Murray, Carolyn B
  • et al.
Abstract

The purpose of the present dissertation was to examine whether, and how, behavioral academic self-handicapping and claimed academic self-handicapping differentially relate to the academic identity statuses (i.e., achieved, diffused, moratorium, and foreclosed). Self-handicapping has been defined as creating or claiming obstacles to performance in order to enhance the ability to externalize failure and internalize success. Academic identity status involves a student’s decision to attend college and the extent to which the student has committed to that choice. In Study 1, three hundred seventy undergraduate students completed survey instruments measuring academic self-handicapping, academic identity, high school college-going climate, self-efficacy, and impostor feelings. The results revealed divergent associations between academic self-handicapping and academic identity status. Specifically, achieved academic identity was negatively associated with both behavioral and claimed self-handicapping, diffused academic identity and moratorium academic identity were positively associated with both types of self-handicapping, and foreclosed academic identity was only positively associated with claimed self-handicapping. These findings are further explicated by the examination of college-going climate, self-efficacy, and impostor feelings.

The purpose of Study 2 was to examine the relationships between self-handicapping, academic identity status, and studying behavior in an undergraduate course. One hundred sixty undergraduate students completed survey instruments measuring academic self-handicapping and academic identity. Participants also recorded their studying behavior (i.e., days and hours spent studying) and their affect while studying (i.e., anxiety, depression, distractedness) during the week preceding the date of an undergraduate course examination. Behavioral academic self-handicapping scores were negatively associated with number of days spent studying and number of hours spent studying; it was positively associated with depression and distractedness while studying. Claimed academic self-handicapping scores were positively associated with self-reports of anxiety, depression, and distractedness while studying. The achieved academic identity was positively associated with number of days and hours spent studying and negatively associated with depression and distractedness while studying. Overall, the results of the present dissertation suggest that developing an achieved academic identity is associated with more positive student behaviors and psychological experiences. Interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of academic self-handicapping should consider methods that facilitate academic identity development.

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