Episode 44: Self-Handicapping – Limiting Ourselves To Protect Ourselves

In this episode, Phil takes the lead in explaining the two types of self-handicapping. He and Steve discuss why people do this, what they can do about it, and it’s possible positive purpose.


  • Behavioral Addiction (aka Process Addiction): a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-substance-related behavior – sometimes called a natural reward – despite any negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social or financial well-being.
  • Addiction: a neuropsychological disorder characterized by a persistent and intense urge to use a drug or engage in a behaviour that produces natural reward, despite substantial harm and other negative consequences.
  • Physical Dependence: a physical condition caused by chronic use of a tolerance-forming drug, in which abrupt or gradual drug withdrawal causes unpleasant physical symptoms.
  • Psychological Dependency: a cognitive disorder that involves emotional–motivational withdrawal symptoms—e.g. anxiety and anhedonia—upon cessation of prolonged drug abuse or certain repetitive behaviors.
  • Dopamine Dependence
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
  • 4 C’s of Addiction: Compulsion, Craving, Consequences, and Control
  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • Wechat – Chinese “everything” app where you can do most things you could want to do on your phone
  • Erich Fromm – To Have or to Be?
  • Desire as Lack vs Desire as Fullness: That Dang Dad’s take on it (Transcript; Video)
  • The Fullness of Desire (Essay) by Lida Maxwell
  • Episode 11: Internalized Capitalism
  • Carl Rogers – On Becoming a Person
  • Roy Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs – Narcissism is Addiction to Esteem
  • Thomas Joiner – Lonely at the Top
  • Operant Conditioning: a learning process where voluntary behaviors are modified by association with the addition (or removal) of reward or aversive stimuli.
  • (Random) Reinforcement: any consequence that increases the likelihood of an organism’s future behavior whenever that behavior is preceded by a particular antecedent stimulus.


  • Self-Handicapping: a cognitive strategy by which people avoid effort in the hopes of keeping potential failure from hurting self-esteem.
    • Behavioral Self-Handicapping: Doing counterproductive things, like going to a party the night before the exam, or not doing important things, like studying for the same exam.
    • Claimed Self-Handicapping: Expressing to others the ways that your performance was suboptimal, such as saying you were anxious, tired, didn’t get enough time to practice, etc.
  • Impression Management: a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event by regulating and controlling information in social interaction.
  • 1996 Pinball Study
  • 1995 Utah Study with the Cartoon Captions
  • Lonely at the Top by Thomas Joiner PhD
  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C Maxwell
  • Self-Esteem: confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself (for example, “I am loved”, “I am worthy”) as well as emotional states, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame.
  • Self-Efficacy: an individual’s belief in their capacity to act in the ways necessary to reach specific goals.
  • Episode 3: Fixed vs Growth Mindset
  • Scientific Management: a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes to management.
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology (I-O psychology): An applied discipline within psychology, is the science of human behavior in the workplace.
  • Episode 34: Fear of Hope – a mindset that limits what we will entertain as a possibility because we are afraid of getting our hopes up and getting all the more hurt when things don’t work out. Closely related to Learned Helplessness.
  • 2005 Rutger’s Study about Business Aptitude
  • Stop Self-Sabotage by Judy Ho
  • Psychological Flexibility: the extent to which a person can cope with changes in circumstances and think about problems and tasks in novel, creative ways.
  • Episode 42: Decadence
  • Fascism: A terrible form of government most concisely defined as, “a populist form of palingenetic ultranationalism.”
  • Evolutionarily Stable Strategies: a strategy (or set of strategies) that is impermeable when adopted by a population in adaptation to a specific environment, that is to say it cannot be displaced by an alternative strategy (or set of strategies) which may be novel or initially rare.
  • Episode 43: Cognitive Defusion
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Habit Stacking by S. J. Scott

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