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Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by people who are anxious about an upcoming event. They set unrealistically low expectations before going into a situation and take steps to avoid poor performance. Defensive pessimism involves over-preparation.
For example, someone preparing for a job interview might convince themselves that the interview is going to be a disaster. The anxiety of this likelihood helps to prepare them for the job interview. The result is that they do exceptionally well.
Self-handicapping is where an individual will create obstacles for themselves before an ability-evaluating event. If it turned out poorly, the obstacles became an excuse or explanation for the failure. If it turned out positive, the obstacles became conquered hurdles.
Self-handicapping involves expecting the worst and self-sabotage.
When comparing defensive pessimists to anxious people who do not practice defensive pessimism, the defensive pessimists show these benefits:
Pessimism can have positive effects. If you are an anxious person, try both strategies and see what works best for you.
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