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John K. Gotwals

This study investigates the functional nature of perfectionism in sport through a person-oriented comparison of healthy and unhealthy perfectionist athletes’ levels of burnout. A sample of 117 intercollegiate varsity student-athletes (M age = 21.28 years, SD = 2.05) completed measures that assessed multidimensional sport-based perfectionism and athlete burnout indices (i.e., reduced accomplishment, sport devaluation, and emotional/physical exhaustion). Cluster analysis revealed that the sample could be represented by four theoretically meaningful clusters: Parent-Oriented Unhealthy Perfectionists, Doubt-Oriented Unhealthy Perfectionists, Healthy Perfectionists, and Non-Perfectionists. Intercluster comparisons revealed that healthy perfectionists reported (a) lower levels on all athlete burnout indices in comparison with both doubt-oriented unhealthy perfectionists and nonperfectionists and (b) lower levels of emotional/physical exhaustion in comparison with parent-oriented unhealthy perfectionists (all ps < .05). The degree to which findings fit within perfectionism/burnout theory and can serve as an example for research with enhanced relevancy to applied sport psychology contexts is discussed.