Fear of Failure, Fear of Evaluation, Perceived Competence, and Self-esteem In Competitive-Trait-Anxious Children

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Michael W. PasserUniversity of Washington

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The competitive trait anxiety of 316 male youth soccer participants was assessed prior to the start of a season. Players' performance expectancies, anticipated affective reactions to success-failure, expectations of criticism for failure, performance- and evaluation-related worries, perceived competence, and self-esteem also were recorded. The responses of players in the upper (n = 79) and lower (n = 84) competitive trait-anxiety quartiles indicated that, as predicted, high-anxious players expected to play less well and experience greater shame, upset, and more frequent criticism from parents and coaches in the event of poor performance. Even when these expectancies were controlled, high-anxious players worried more frequently than low-anxious players about not playing well, losing, and being evaluated by parents, coaches, and teammates. No between-group differences existed in players' self-perceived athletic competence or in their ability as rated by coaches. Competitive trait anxiety was weakly related to self-esteem. The findings support the general hypothesis that fear of failure and fear of evaluation are significant sources of threat in competitive-trait-anxious children.

This study was funded by two grants from the Graduate School Research Fund, University of Washington. The author gratefully acknowledges the cooperation received from the Shore-lake Community Soccer Club and its participants. Special thanks are extended to the students who assisted in the data collection.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Michael W. Passer, Department of Kinesiology, Hutchinson Hall DX-10, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.

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