The use and misuse of labels: Codependency as a self-handicapping strategy.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractA self-handicapping conceptualization of the function of the self-applied codependent label is presented. It was proposed that the self-appellation of the codependent label would function as a self-handicap when used by women who were not children of an alcoholic (COAs). It was also proposed that such a use of this label constituted a tendency to self-handicap and that these women would be more likely to employ self-handicapping strategies in situations involving interpersonal evaluations than: (1) controls who are not COAs or codependent; (2) COAs who describe themselves as codependent; or (3) COAs who do not endorse codependency. Additionally, in situations which involved interpersonal evaluations by males portrayed as either exploitive or nurturant, it was predicted that women who were COAs (with or without the codependent label) would likely to rate the exploitive male positively. The results did not support the self-handicapping hypothesis for women who labeled themselves codependent. The evidence suggests that COAs may self-handicap more than non-COAs. In addition, those women who endorsed the codependent label regardless of COA status did not distinguish between exploitive and nurturant males in liking, and non-codependent COAs liked the exploitive male least.