Undergraduate Honor Student of Psychology
Katie O'Connor is a senior majoring in Psychology and Religious Studies. After completing her undergraduate education, she plans to pursue a PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Katie's project examines the effects of relevant and irrelevant affirmations on self-handicapping behaviors in golfers. Self-handicapping is when an individual creates or claims obstacles to success. The individual can then attribute any failure to these obstacles rather than his/her own abilities. Previous research has shown that irrelevant affirmations decrease self-handicapping behaviors, but may also diminish the importance of the task. Relevant affirmation has been shown to either maintain or increase self-handicapping behaviors, possibly due to perceived threat to the self-esteem by creating a performance standard.
Her research looks closely at what, specifically, individuals focus on when engaging in relevant affirmation. This will help explain why relevant affirmation seems to maintain or increase perceived threat in a situation and will help identify a framework for relevant affirmation that does not create threat. If successful, relevant affirmation may be a better strategy for decreasing self-handicapping because it does not diminish the importance of the task. In the study participants are giving a number of personality questionnaires and a writing task to complete. The writing task asks the participants to write about a past putting success (relevant affirmation), a past personal success (irrelevant affirmation, or what they did the previous day (control). These responses will be used to examine how individuals frame their affirmations and relate them to the task at hand. Next, participants are shown a five foot putt and told they have unlimited time to practice the putt before being tested for accuracy on the same five foot putt. Practice time is used as a measure of self-handicapping behavior.