This study compared the fear of failure and perfectionism constructs by analyzing their latent structure as well as their motivational antecedents and consequences. College students (N = 372) enrolled in physical activity classes completed a battery of questionnaires assessing fear of failure, perfectionism, approach and avoidance motivational temperaments, and 2 × 2 achievement goals. Structural equation modeling revealed that responses were best summarized by two correlated factors representing perfectionistic strivings and concerns. Avoidance temperament was positively associated with both forms of incompetence avoidance; however, approach temperament was positively related only to perfectionist strivings. Perfectionistic concerns were positively related to the adoption of mastery-avoidance and performance-avoidance goals and negatively related to the adoption of mastery-approach goals. Perfectionistic strivings were positively associated with both approach goals. These results indicate that strivings to avoid incompetence can be distinguished with respect to their latent structure, temperamental antecedents, and motivational consequences.
Kaye and Conroy are with the Department of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, and Fifer is now with the Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.