This exploratory study examined the relationship of perfectionism (from a recently devised multidimensional measure) with female athletes' reactions to athletic competition and coaches' ratings of reactions to mistakes during competition. Athletes who rated high in Concern Over Mistakes (one dimension of perfectionism) reported more anxiety and less self-confidence in sports, displayed a general failure orientation toward sports, reacted negatively to mistakes (by their report and by coaches' ratings), and reported more negative thinking in the 24 hours prior to competition. A second dimension of perfectionism, High Personal Standards, was associated with a success orientation toward sports and more dreams of perfection prior to competition. The possible influence of perfectionism on motivation and performance in sports is discussed.
The authors are with the Department of Psychology at Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063.