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What Do We Research?

Humans have several basic motivations including the need to belong and the need to feel good about oneself. People often act in strategic ways to meet these needs, even if their actions seem risky or counterintuitive to observers. In my lab, I research one type of these risky self-protective behaviors called self-handicapping. Self-handicapping occurs when someone preemptively creates an excuse to protect themselves from failure. Excuses range from claims of debilitating circumstances like testing anxiety, to self-sabotaging behaviors like drinking alcohol or taking drugs before a performance. People use self-handicapping to shift the blame for their failure away from the self and onto an external excuse in order to feel good, even after failure.

Self-Handicapping Publications:

  • Eyink, J. R., Hirt, E. R., Hendrix, K. S., & Galante, E. (2017). Circadian variations in claimed self-handicapping: Exploring the strategic use of stress as an excuse. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 102-110.
  • Hirt, E. R., Heiman, S., Eyink, J. R., & McCrea S. (in press). Self-handicapping in the face of uncertainty: The paradox that most certainly is. In J. P. Forgan, B. Crano, & K. Fiedler (Eds.), The psychology of insecurity: Seeking certainty where none can be had. Routledge.

Current Self-Handicapping Projects:

  • How different types of people react to others' self-handicapping
  • The differential interpersonal costs of various types of self-handicaps
  • What people see "in their minds" when picturing a self-handicapper

When situations are ambiguous, individuals look to others to determine how to act. There are two different types of information people can gather: injunctive and descriptive norms. Injunctive norms describe the actions most others approve of and tell us what we should do. Descriptive norms provide the actions most others do and tell us what behavior is most efficacious in a given situation. My work in this area focuses on how individuals differentially use normative information to determine their behavior.

Current Social Norm Projects:

  • Gender differences in following injunctive vs. descriptive norms
  • Using social norms to increase course evaluation participation
  • Social norms' impact on conspiracy theory involvement

My final focus of research revolves around using psychology to help students learn more effectively and achieve more. My work in this area focuses both on tackling common student issues like lack of effort and motivation, and on ways to improve the behaviors and experiences of educators.

SoTL Publications

  • Eyink, J. R, Motz, B., Heltzel, G., & Liddell, T. (2020). Self‐regulated studying behavior, and the social norms that influence it. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 50, 10-21.
  • Lam, C., Drane, L., Kearns, K., Eyink, J. R., Hathorn, H., Standard, M. G., Tezel, A., O’Neill, M., Howard, J., Saam, J., Daleke, D. (under review). “In retrospect, I recognize it as a significant turning point”: A student-centered assessment of a preparing future faculty program.

Current SoTL Projects

  • Using social norms to increase course evaluation participation
  • Beliefs about teaching abilities