Self-Defeating Behaviors

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Self-defeating behaviors are those that make more likely a consequence that the person tried to avoid. These behaviors include procrastination, self-fulfilling prophecies of negative expectations, learned helplessness, self-handicapping, success avoidance, failures in self-regulation, and at the extreme, addictions, and risky behaviors. People may make trade-offs, obtaining short-term benefits at long-term costs, or they may engage in counterproductive strategies by misjudging their own capabilities of handling the realities of situations. People engage in these behaviors in order to protect self-esteem or to avoid unpleasant emotions. Extreme patterns of such behaviors are called 'Personality Disorders,' which include dependent, borderline, and obsessive personality disorders.




Curtis, R. C. (2012). Self-Defeating Behaviors. In Encyclopedia of Human Behavior: Second Edition (pp. 307–313). Elsevier Inc.

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