Exploring the link between self-handicapping and self-esteem: a study on sports science students

Unvanli Y., Dogru Z.

Trends in Sport Sciences, vol.31, no.1, pp.45-54, 2024 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.23829/tss.2024.31.1-5
  • Journal Name: Trends in Sport Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Central & Eastern European Academic Source (CEEAS), Hospitality & Tourism Complete, Hospitality & Tourism Index, SportDiscus
  • Page Numbers: pp.45-54
  • Keywords: self-esteem, self-handicapping, sport psychology
  • Police Academy Affiliated: Yes


Introduction. The intricate interplay of self-concept, self-esteem, and strategies for navigating success and failure shapes life’s quality. Self-esteem, a dynamic perception of worth, drives aspirations and shields against failure’s impact. This dynamic gives rise to self-handicapping, safeguarding self-esteem by attributing failure to external factors. Success is credited to talent, masking effort. This complex landscape resonates across existence, impacting talents, acceptance, and pursuits. Self-handicapping strategies, balancing aspiration and preservation, protect self-esteem. Aim of Study. We aim to investigate self-esteem and self-handicapping levels among sports science students. We seek to uncover their intricate relationship and how it relates to success in this field. Additionally, we will explore how gender, education level, athletic participation, and sport type influence self-esteem and self-handicapping tendencies, providing insights into individuals’ self-perceptions and coping strategies. Material and Methods. The study employed the relational survey method to analyze self-handicapping and self-esteem levels among students, gaining ethics committee approval. Descriptive statistics were presented, including mean ± SD scores. Non-parametric tests, Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal–Wallis H, were used due to data distribution. The Self-Esteem Scale (SES) and the Self-Handicapping Scale (SHS) were used. Results. Internal consistency was high (α = 0.74 for SES, α = 0.72 for SHS). Regarding gender, no statistically significant differences were observed in mean SHS or SES scores. For class, SHS and SES scores differed significantly (p < 0.001). Team/ individual sport differences had a significant impact on both SHS (p < 0.01) and SES (p < 0.01) scores. A moderately negative correlation was observed between self-handicapping and self-esteem (p < 0.001, r = –0.499). Self-esteem explained 10% of the self-handicapping variation. Conclusions. In conclusion, the study provides insights into the relationship between self-handicapping and self-esteem among sports science students. It sheds light on how self-esteem motivations influence self-handicapping behaviors, with potential implications for personal growth and well-being.