Self-esteem is the central component of every individual’s daily life experiences. Self esteem can be defined as a person’s evaluation of the self, e.g. “I am not satisfied with me” or “I like me.” We perform self-evaluations on ourselves everyday; it is a non conscious process where as only the individual knows the end result. Important domains affect us, and unimportant domains do not (things tailored specifically to the individual). When an individual experiences an emotional “gut feeling”, the individual feels either good or bad about themselves. As human beings, we have a fundamental need for motives of self inclusion (Franzoi 59). Self-esteem serves as a warning mechanism to help individuals ensure that they are affiliating themselves properly in any situation (Franzoi 58). You can compare this to a gas gauge. When you are low on gas, your car will signal the “low fuel” light, and you will stop for gas to avoid running out; when one is in a situation where they are beginning to feel bad, one will non-consciously begin to figure out how to feel good. Thus, self-esteem is sensitive to both inclusion and exclusion. Humans are most sensitive to exclusion, but we are all calibrated differently on a scale from low to high self-esteem. Individuals with high self-esteem are often perceived as confident and successful whereas individuals with low
self-esteem are thought of as insecure and tend to give up easily. You may be asking yourself, why should we care about self-esteem levels? Well if you have ever put off a task to the last minute, you may have experienced a dip in your self-esteem levels; or perhaps you put it off because your self-esteem level was already low. In this paper I discuss the link between self-handicapping in individuals with low self-esteem and procrastination. Although people with high self-esteem also self-handicap and procrastinate, the impact on persons with low self-esteem that were studied had substantially more negative effects.
Human beings want to feel good about themselves (self-enhancement) as well as having the desire to have consistent information, or wanting the world to make sense [(self-consistency) Leary 32-33]. Individuals like knowing how they fit in. As Leary states, when a person with high self-esteem is given positive feedback, it fulfills that person’s self-enhancement and self-consistency. If a person with low self-esteem is given positive feedback, it fulfills their desire of self-enhancement, but conflicts with their identified self-consistency (33). This conflict of motives is called a cognitive crossfire. In persons with low self-esteem, they like the idea of positive feedback, but are less likely to believe it (Burr et al. 461-64). Franzoi includes a case study et al. Swan (1987) measured the self-esteem in a group of individuals, and used the top and bottom twenty percent in his study of measuring the accuracy of first impressions (92-96). Each person was told that a “hidden observer” would be evaluating their first impressions of them as they gave a speech. The participants were told (unknowingly at random) weather they were socially skilled or not. The participants with low self-esteem thought that the
negative feedback was more accurate, while the other low self-esteem participants who received positive feedback admitted that the feedback felt good, but were less likely to believe the accuracy. In order to increase someone's self esteem you need evidence to back up the positive feedback and make it believable (86-90). The lower the self esteem the more evidence needed. The need for a person with low self-esteem to avoid a cognitive crossfire often leads to the individual to self-handicap themselves (Kernis 4). Taken from Joseph Ferrari’s article from Journal of Research in Personality (34):
“Self-handicapping is when people place obstacles that...