IU research examines gender differences in excuses for failure

February 06, 2003

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- When men make lame excuses for a poor test performance, women don't buy it, according to research just published by Edward Hirt, a social psychologist at Indiana University Bloomington.

Hirt has spent the last 10 years conducting research on this aspect of social psychology that involves the term self-handicapping. The associate professor of psychology is the lead author of "I Know You Self-Handicapped Last Exam: Gender Differences in Reactions to Self-Handicapping" in the current issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Self-handicapping is defined as an individual's attempt to reduce a threat to esteem by actively seeking or creating factors that interfere with performance as a causal explanation for failure," he explained. "The goals of self-handicapping are to disregard ability as the causal factor for a poor performance and to embrace ability as the causal factor for a success."

His current study of several hundred subjects concentrated on gender differences in how self-handicapping is perceived. "What we found is that women have less tolerance for self-handicapping by men or women. They routinely made more negative evaluations of the self-handicapping targets and were less willing than men to excuse self-handicapping even when alternative explanations for effort withdrawal, such as peer pressure, were viable. We found that women not only are more suspicious of people who blow things off or withdraw effort, but also are more likely to think the person is just generally lazy, unmotivated or lacking in self-control," he said.

Hirt believes these findings reflect a fundamental difference between men and women in what they value in performance settings. "Men were far more lenient in their attributions of self-handicapping targets than were women and less likely to ascribe negative motivations to individuals who engage in self-handicapping behavior. Women, however, have little respect for individuals who lack motivation and fail to put forth the effort in important performance settings," he said. He noted an interesting paradox: those most inclined to engage in self-handicapping behavior are less likely to attribute that motive to others.

Hirt said researchers want to develop a better understanding of the sources of such gender differences in value orientation. "It may be that the sex differences we have observed are simply another manifestation of broad gender differences in personality," he said.
-end-
Assisting Hirt with the journal article were IU psychology graduate students Sean McCrea and Hillary Boris.

For more details, contact Hirt at 812-855-4815 or ehirt@indiana.edu.

Indiana University

Related Gender Differences Articles from Brightsurf:

Gender differences in academic productivity during COVID-19 pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most science and medical faculty began working from home, with women reporting a significant decrease in manuscript submissions.

Study finds gender differences in active learning classrooms
Men participated more in an active learning course in science, technology, engineering and math, while women reported lower perceptions of their scientific abilities, were more aware of gender identity and more likely to feel judged based on gender, a new Cornell-led study has found.

Gender-specific differences in the salivary microbiome of caries-active children
At the 97th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR), Stephanie Ortiz, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, USA, gave a poster presentation on 'Gender-specific Differences in the Salivary Microbiome of Caries-active Children.'

Teen series continue to feature stereotyped characters that perpetuate gender differences
A study has sought to identify and analyse adolescents' favourite kind of character in Spanish teen series.

Study identifies gender differences in reported adverse drug reactions
In a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study, investigators uncovered numerous gender differences in reports of adverse drug reactions sent to the National Pharmacovigilance Centre in the Netherlands.

Gender equality and economic development promote gender-specific preferences
The more equal women's opportunities compared to men's, and the more resources women have, the more their preferences differ from men's, suggests a new study based on survey data from nearly 80 countries.

Personality differences between the sexes are largest in the most gender equal countries
The self-rated personalities of men and women differ more in more gender equal countries, according to recent research from the University of Gothenburg, University West and the University of Skövde.

Sex after 65: Poll finds links to health, gender differences, lack of communication
A new poll busts stereotypes about the sex lives of older Americans -- and reveals gender and health-related divides on key aspects of sexual health, while highlighting the need for more people to talk with their health providers about sexual issues.

Study documents ethnic and gender differences in youths' developing gender identity
The extent to which youths feel typical of their gender and the pressure they feel to conform to traditional gender roles are related to adolescents' well-being.

Study reveals complex biology, gender differences, in kidney cancer
A new study is believed to be the first to describe the unique role of androgens in kidney cancer, and it suggests that a new approach to treatment, targeting the androgen receptor (AR), is worth further investigation.

Read More: Gender Differences News and Gender Differences Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.