AUG 17, 2018 07:07 AM PDT

Why do I self-sabotage before a big exam?

Have you ever been so stressed about an exam that you ended up sabotaging yourself? Psychologists use the term "self-handicapping" to refer to actions that we take in order to purposely mess ourselves up - i.e. procrastinating by binging on your new favorite Netflix show instead of actually studying for said exam. Scientists think that self-handicapping is basically an excuse that you have ready in place so that you don't feel badly about yourself or others don't think badly of you if you don't perform well. 

There are two types of self-handicapping that psychologists differentiate between: behavioral and claimed. Behavioral self-handicapping is when you actually behave in a certain way by doing actions, like going out to a party and getting drunk the night before your thesis defense, or not doing actions, like failing to read that book for group discussion tomorrow. Claimed handicapping is more about the things you say than the things you do. "Oh, I'm tired today. I'm not feeling well. I didn't sleep well." Etcetera, etcetera. Have you ever realized you're self-handicapping? Watch the video to learn more!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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