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.
Jeffrey K. H. Vallance, John G. H. Dunn and Janice L. Causgrove Dunn
This study examined the degree to which male youth ice hockey playersʼ (N = 229, M age = 14.15 years; SD = 1.03) perfectionist orientations were associated with anger vulnerability in competition. Perfectionism and trait anger were measured as domain-specific constructs. Athletes were also asked to speculate on the likely intensity of anger responses if they were to commit mistakes in high- and low-criticality situations in competition. Canonical correlation results indicated that heightened perfectionist orientations were associated with heightened competitive trait anger. Cluster analyses produced three clusters of athletes who possessed either low, moderate, or high levels of perfectionism. Significant between-cluster differences on anger responses to mistakes were obtained, with highly perfectionistic athletes anticipating significantly higher levels of anger following mistakes than low and moderately perfectionistic athletes. A significant situation-criticality main effect was also observed, with athletes anticipating higher levels of anger following personal mistakes in high- as opposed to low-criticality situations. Results are discussed within the context of cognitive motivational theories of emotion.
Kelly Barcza-Renner, Robert C. Eklund, Alexandre J.S. Morin and Christine M. Habeeb
This investigation sought to replicate and extend earlier studies of athlete burnout by examining athlete-perceived controlling coaching behaviors and athlete perfectionism variables as, respectively, environmental and dispositional antecedents of athlete motivation and burnout. Data obtained from NCAA Division I swimmers (n = 487) within 3 weeks of conference championship meets were analyzed for this report. Significant indirect effects were observed between controlling coaching behaviors and burnout through athlete perfectionism (i.e., socially prescribed, self-oriented) and motivation (i.e., autonomous, amotivation). Controlling coaching behaviors predicted athlete perfectionism. In turn, self-oriented perfectionism was positively associated with autonomous motivation and negatively associated with amotivation, while socially prescribed perfectionism was negatively associated with autonomous motivation and positively associated with controlled motivation and amotivation. Autonomous motivation and amotivation, in turn, predicted athlete burnout in expected directions. These findings implicate controlling coaching behaviors as potentially contributing to athlete perfectionism, shaping athlete motivational regulations, and possibly increasing athlete burnout.
Klaudia M. Sapieja, John G.H. Dunn and Nicholas L. Holt
Although perfectionist orientations have been linked to a variety of cognitive, affective, and behavioral correlates in youth sport, little is known about antecedent factors that may influence adolescent athletes’ perfectionist orientations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether perceptions of parenting styles differ as a function of adolescent athletes’ perfectionist orientations. A total of 194 male youth soccer players (M age = 13.64 years; SD = 1.51; range, 10.67−16.25 years) completed measures of their perfectionist orientations in sport and of their perceptions of maternal and paternal parenting styles. Scores from the parenting style measure were calculated such that higher scores were reflective of higher parental authoritativeness (as perceived by the athletes). Cluster analyses conducted on perfectionism responses produced independent clusters of unhealthy perfectionists, healthy perfectionists, and nonperfectionists. MANOVA results revealed that both healthy- and nonperfectionists had significantly higher perceptions of maternal and paternal authoritativeness than unhealthy perfectionists (ps < .005). Results indicate that exposure to heightened authoritative parenting may play a role in developing healthy perfectionist orientations (or decrease the likelihood of developing unhealthy perfectionist orientations) in youth sport.
Andrew P. Hill, Howard K. Hall, Paul R. Appleton and Jemma J. Murray
Recent research suggests that validation-seeking and dimensions of perfectionism may be antecedents of athlete burnout. The present investigation examined whether validation and growth-seeking mediate the relationship between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism and burnout. One-hundred and fifty canoe polo and kayak slalom athletes recruited from the top two divisions in the UK completed measures of validation and growth-seeking (GOI), perfectionism (HMPS), and athlete burnout (ABQ). Analyses supported the mediating role of validation-seeking in the relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and burnout. However, while bivariate correlations indicated that self-oriented perfectionism was positively related to both validation and growth-seeking, neither mediated the self-oriented perfectionism-burnout relationship. The findings suggest that validation-seeking may be an important psychological factor in the development of burnout for athletes exhibiting high levels of socially prescribed perfectionism. The relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and athlete burnout remains unclear because of its association with multiple motives and with socially prescribed perfectionism.
Mimi S. H. Ho, Paul R. Appleton, Jennifer Cumming and Joan L. Duda
This study examined whether the relationships between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism and symptoms of burning out (i.e., reduced accomplishment, emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation, negative affect, and symptoms of physical ill-health) were moderated by hearing ability. A total of 417 athletes (hearing = 205, deaf = 212) completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Hewitt & Flett, 1991, 2004), the negative affect subscale of the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2001), and the Physical Symptoms Checklist (Emmons, 1991). Regression analyses revealed the hypothesized relationships were generally consistent across both groups. The current findings provide insight into the potential effects of perfectionism dimensions for hearing and deaf athletes’ health.
Joachim Stoeber, Mark A. Uphill and Sarah Hotham
The question of how perfectionism affects performance is highly debated. Because empirical studies examining perfectionism and competitive sport performance are missing, the present research investigated how perfectionism affected race performance and what role athletes’ goals played in this relationship in two prospective studies with competitive triathletes (Study 1: N = 112; Study 2: N = 321). Regression analyses showed that perfectionistic personal standards, high performance-approach goals, low performance-avoidance goals, and high personal goals predicted race performance beyond athletes’ performance level. Moreover, the contrast between performance-avoidance and performance-approach goals mediated the relationship between perfectionistic personal standards and performance, whereas personal goal setting mediated the relationship between performance-approach goals and performance. The findings indicate that perfectionistic personal standards do not undermine competitive performance, but are associated with goals that help athletes achieve their best possible performance.
Sanna M. Nordin-Bates, Andrew P. Hill, Jennifer Cumming, Imogen J. Aujla and Emma Redding
The present study examined the relationship between dance-related perfectionism and perceptions of motivational climate in dance over time. In doing so, three possibilities were tested: (a) perfectionism affects perceptions of the motivational climate, (b) perceptions of the motivational climate affect perfectionism, and (c) the relationship is reciprocal. Two hundred seventy-one young dancers (M = 14.21 years old, SD = 1.96) from UK Centres for Advanced Training completed questionnaires twice, approximately 6 months apart. Cross-lagged analysis indicated that perfectionistic concerns led to increased perceptions of an ego-involving climate and decreased perceptions of a task-involving climate over time. In addition, perceptions of a task-involving climate led to increased perfectionistic strivings over time. The findings suggest that perfectionistic concerns may color perceptions of training/performing environments so that mistakes are deemed unacceptable and only superior performance is valued. They also suggest that perceptions of a task-involving climate in training/performing environments may encourage striving for excellence and perfection without promoting excessive concerns regarding their attainment.
Daniel J. Madigan, Joachim Stoeber and Louis Passfield
Perfectionism in sports has been shown to be associated with burnout in athletes. Whether perfectionism predicts longitudinal changes in athlete burnout, however, is still unclear. Using a two-wave cross-lagged panel design, the current study examined perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, and athlete burnout in 101 junior athletes (mean age 17.7 years) over 3 months of active training. When structural equation modeling was employed to test a series of competing models, the best-fitting model showed opposite patterns for perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. Whereas perfectionistic concerns predicted increases in athlete burnout over the 3 mon ths, perfectionistic strivings predicted decreases. The present findings suggest that perfectionistic concerns are a risk factor for junior athletes contributing to the development of athlete burnout whereas perfectionistic strivings appear to be a protective factor.
coach expect me to win…”, and “I think I’m a failure if I don’t beat [name of swimmer] in my race”. Although there is no single definition of perfectionism, it is generally understood to be a “multidimensional dispositional achievement orientation” which often involves the flawless attainment of high