Determinants of reduction in intended effort as a strategy for coping with anticipated failure

Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

89 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study investigated the use of reduction in intended effort as a strategy for protecting self-esteem from the threat of anticipated failure. It was hypothesized that people reduce the amount of effort they intend to exert when they expect a low probability of success on a highly ego-relevant task. Female subjects anticipated taking an easy (high probability of success) or difficult (low probability of success) test that was either high or low in ego relevance. Subjects' levels of intended effort and other task-relevant cognitions were assessed. It was found that subjects in the low-probability condition intended to exert less effort on the highly ego-relevant test than did subjects in the high-probability condition; probability of success had no effect on intended effort level on the low ego-relevance test. Subjects also reported that it was a worse day for a test in the low-probability condition than in the high-probability condition. The relevance of these findings to the egotism explanation of learned helplessness effects and general theories of motivation was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-422
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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