Why don’t people work hard when it’s in their best interest to do so?

“This is actually a question I’m obsessed with: Why don’t people work hard when it’s in their best interest to do so?… The (short) answer is that it’s really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn’t work hard. It’s a form of self-protection… Most of the psychological research on this is focused on why some kids don’t study for tests — which is a much more serious version of the same problem. If you get drunk the night before an exam instead of studying and you fail, then the problem is that you got drunk. If you do study and you fail, the problem is that you’re stupid — and stupid, for a student, is a death sentence. The point is that it is far more psychologically dangerous and difficult to prepare for a task than not to prepare.” Blink author Malcolm Gladwell