The dual nature of perfectionism in sports: Relationships with emotion, motivation, and performance.
International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4
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Perfectionism is a prevalent characteristic in athletes. Yet some researchers have argued that perfectionism in sports is maladaptive because it undermines athletes’ performance and stifles athletic development. This argument, however, neglects that perfectionism is a multidimensional characteristic and that only some dimensions of perfectionism are clearly maladaptive, whereas others are not. This review argues that perfectionism is comprised of two main dimensions―perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns (Stoeber & Otto, 2006)―that show different and unique pattern of relationships with athletes’ emotion, motivation, and performance. In support of this argument the review will present findings indicating that only perfectionistic concerns show unique positive relationships with competitive anxiety, fear of failure, and avoidance goal orientations. In contrast, perfectionistic strivings show unique positive relationships with self-confidence, hope of success, approach goal orientations, and performance in training and competitions. The findings suggest that only perfectionistic concerns are clearly maladaptive, whereas perfectionistic strivings may form part of a healthy striving for excellence. Implications for applied sport psychology are discussed as are open questions for future research.
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