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The multidimensional, hierarchical model of fear of failure (FF) has gained popularity in sport; however, the unique meaning of lower-order fears of failing in previous research may have been obscured by the hierarchical structure of the model. The present research aimed to establish the unique psychological meaning of lower-order fears of failing. Samples of recreational athletes (N = 440) and female varsity intercollegiate track and field athletes (N = 71) completed measures of multidimensional fears of failing, self-talk while failing, 2 × 2 achievement goals, and contextual motivation. Partial correlation analyses revealed unique patterns of relationships for each lower-order FF score with the external measures of self-talk, achievement goals, and contextual motivation. Fears of experiencing shame and embarrassment appeared to be at the heart of dysfunctional aspects of FF, whereas fears of having an uncertain future evidenced some uniquely adaptive components.
David E. Conroy is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, 267 Rec Hall, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.