When the Stakes are Higher: Self-esteem Instability and Self-handicapping

Leonard S. Newman, Richard F. Wadas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The relationship between self-esteem stability and self-handicapping was examined. Previous research by Tice (1991) suggested that people with high and low self-esteem self-handicap for different reasons: High self-esteem people do so to enhance success, while people with low self-esteem do so to protect themselves against the threatening implications of failure. It was hypothesized that these tendencies would be exaggerated in people with unstable self-esteem, because when self-esteem is unstable, people are more sensitive to evaluative feedback and more concerned about their self-views (Kernis, 1993). Results of an experiment involving 106 college students confirmed the predictions and further implicate self-esteem instability as a motivator of behaviors that serve to enhance and protect self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Behavior and Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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