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Some protect the ego by working on their excuses early

The New York Times
Jan. 6, 2009

By Benedict Carey

Every ugly exam score, blown deadline and failed project provides the opportunity to try out new excuses. It was a blowup at home. A sick cat. An emergency at work. "This is real self-sabotage, like drinking heavily before a test, skipping practice or using really poor equipment," said Edward R. Hirt, a psychologist at Indiana University. "Some people do this a lot, and often it's not clear whether they're entirely conscious of doing it -- or of its costs."

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