When I was in elementary school, I played in a tetherball competition with the girls in my 5th grade class. After beating several other girls, I was paired with the most popular girl in the class. All of the kids were standing around us watching our match, and I was ahead for most of the game. It was thrilling to be kicking the butt of the most popular girl, especially since I wasn’t much of an athlete. But as the match went on, all of our classmates started cheering for my opponent. Every time she scored, there was wild enthusiasm. When I scored, there was silence. So I threw the game — I purposely messed up to allow her to score the winning point. At the time, I wasn’t conscious of my reasons for purposely losing. It was a quick decision, but a decision triggered by an accumulation of experiences and beliefs about myself. I was afraid of succeeding because . . . I would have undermined the social hierarchy in our class — the popular girl is supposed to win. I wasn’t a natural athlete, so if I won, I’d be challenging the perceptions of all of my classmates. Maybe I was more athletic than I believed, and