Self-handicapping in school physical education: The influence of the motivational climate

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Self-handicapping is an attribution-related process whereby individuals create performance impediments/excuses to protect self-worth in socially evaluative environments. Thus, the prevailing motivational climate would appear to be an important factor when attempting to understand the situational self-handicapping process within school physical education.


Drawing from achievement goal theory, the study examined the effect of experimentally induced conditions (viz. task vs. ego) on situational self-handicapping.


Seventy British secondary school students (36 females and 34 males; M age = 11.98; SD=0.31).


Participants were randomly assigned to partake in a running endurance task in either an ego-involving (20 male students and 16 female students) or a task-involving (14 male students and 20 female students) condition. Prior to completing the experimental task, participants were given the opportunity to claim situational self-handicaps. Data for goal orientations, subjective climate perceptions, perceived ability and perceived task importance were also obtained.


After determining the effectiveness of the experimental manipulation, results revealed participants in the ego-involving condition to report significantly more situational self-handicapping claims. Further, and after controlling for individual difference variables, the results of moderated hierarchical regression analysis revealed subjective perceptions of an ego-involving climate to be the main positive predictor of situational self-handicapping. Although a weaker contributor to the percentage of variance explained, task orientation emerged as a negative predictor of situational self-handicapping.


The findings suggest that PE teachers would be prudent to minimize ego-involving situations should they wish to reduce situational self-handicapping.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles