Volume 45 - n. 4 - July-August 2014


Introduction to the special issue

Andrew P. Hill *, Paul R. Appleton ** and Howard K. Hall ***

(*) School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences University of Leeds, UK
(**) School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
(***) Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, York St John University, UK

The article provides an introduction to the special issue on perfectionism in sport and dance. In it we provide a context for the special issue, our thoughts on how research is progressing in this area, and a brief description of the contributions to the special issue. In doing so, we identify some of the notable features of each study and the new insights they offer. The contributions use qualitative and quantitative methods, both established and contemporary models of perfectionism, and illustrate how to test these models using different analytical approaches. Overall, we believe that the collection of studies attests to the predictive ability of perfectionism in its various guises and affirms the relevance of perfectionism in understanding the experiences of athletes and dancers.

Keywords: Athletes, Dancers, Motivation, Performance



Intercollegiate perfectionistic athletes’ perspectives on achievement: Contributions to the understanding and assessment of perfectionism in sport

John K. Gotwals * and Nancy Spencer-Cavaliere **

(*) School of Kinesiology, Lakehead University, Canada
(**) Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Canada

The purpose of this study was to explore perfectionistic athletes’ perspectives on achievement in sport. Male and female intercollegiate athletes whose Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale 2 (Sport-MPS-2; Gotwals & Dunn, 2009) subscale profile reflected healthy perfectionism (n = 7) or unhealthy perfectionism (n = 11) were purposefully sampled and interviewed. Content analysis of the interview data revealed three themes: personal expectations, coping with challenge, and role of others. Although these themes were common to both healthy and unhealthy perfectionists, the content generally represented a dichotomy of positive and negative interpretations, respectively. Discussion explores the degree to which these findings provide insight into perfectionism among athletes, support use of the tripartite model (Stoeber & Otto, 2006) and anecdotal accounts of perfectionism (e.g., Burns, 1980; Hamachek, 1978) within sport, foster resolution of the healthy–unhealthy perfectionism debate, contribute to the development of the Sport-MPS-2, and advance understanding of the domain-specificity of perfectionism.

Keywords: Athletes, Healthy, Domain-specific, Mixed-methods, Perfectionism, Qualitative, Tripartite model, Unhealthy



A person-oriented examination of perfectionism and slump-related coping in female intercollegiate volleyball players

John G.h. Dunn, Janice Causgrove Dunn, Vania Gamache and Nicholas L. Holt

Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta

The purpose of this study was to determine if athletes with different perfectionist profiles (i.e., healthy and unhealthy perfectionism) differed with respect to how they coped with a performance slump. Female intercollegiate volleyball players (N = 137; M age = 19.94 years) completed domain-specific measures of perfectionism and coping in sport. Cluster analyses produced three clusters of athletes that directly corresponded to a tripartite conceptualization of perfectionism that differentiates between healthy-, unhealthy-, and non-perfectionists. A MANOVA revealed that healthy perfectionists reported the use of increased effort and active coping more frequently than unhealthy perfectionists, whereas unhealthy perfectionists reported the use of behavioral disengagement more frequently than healthy perfectionists (all ps < .05). Results support the important role that perfectionism may play in the coping process and reinforce the need to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy profiles of perfectionism in sport.

Keywords: Coping, Healthy perfectionism, Unhealthy perfectionism, Sport



Perfectionism and the stress process in intercollegiate athletes: Examining the 2 × 2 model of perfectionism in sport competition

Peter R. E. Crocker *, Patrick Gaudreau **, Amber D. Mosewich *** and Kristina Kljajic **

(*) School of Kinesiology. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
(**) School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Canada
(***) School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

This study examined the 2 × 2 model of perfectionism to predict competitionrelated stress variables in intercollegiate athletes. A sample of 179 athletes (n=99 women) completed measures of sport perfectionism at Time 1 and 4-5 weeks later completed measures of coping, appraisal, affect, and goal progress after a competition. Results of moderated hierarchical regression analysis found support for the 2 × 2 model’s four hypotheses for challenge and control appraisals and goal progress. However, only two hypotheses were supported for threat appraisals, negative affect, and avoidance coping. Exploratory analysis found some evidence that goal progress moderated the relationship between perfectionism, coping, and control appraisals. Overall, the results indicated that pure personal standards perfectionism was associated with better outcomes than pure evaluative concerns perfectionism. For most variables, evaluative concerns perfectionism was related to the poorest outcomes. The results indicate that the 2 × 2 model is a viable framework to evaluate the joint influences of perfectionism dimensions on the stress process.

Keywords: Affect, Coping, Cognitive appraisal, Goal achievement



Profiles of perfectionism, motivation, and self-evaluations among dancers: An extended analysis of Cumming and Duda (2012)

Eleanor Quested, J. Cumming and J.l. Duda

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

The 2 × 2 model posits that different combinations of evaluative concerns and personal standards perfectionism contribute to four distinct perfectionism subtypes (or profiles). This study provides further analysis of data from the only study to date to test this model in dance (Cumming & Duda, 2012). In doing so, we aimed to further examine the hypothesis proposed by Gaudreau and Thompson (2010) that mixed perfectionism is more adaptive than pure evaluative concerns perfectionism on account of the personal standards perfectionism dimensions that contribute to the mixed perfectionism profile. We also examined whether the model could explain differences in previously unexamined motivation-related constructs (intrinsic motivation and fear of failure) and indicators of self-evaluations (self-esteem and body dissatisfaction) between these and the other subtypes. 194 vocational dancers (169 female, 25 male, M age = 16.73, SD = 1.45) completed three subscales of the multidimensional perfectionism scale (Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990) tapping the perfectionism dimensions of personal standards, concern over mistakes and doubts about actions. Dancers also responded to items assessing intrinsic motivation, fear of failure, self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. Differences between the four clusters established in Cumming and Duda (2012) in the criterion variables were revealed. Overall, findings provided partial support for each of the four hypotheses of the 2 × 2 model. Findings did not support the suggestion that personal standards perfectionism buffers mixed perfectionists from the debilitating consequences of evaluative concerns perfectionism.

Keywords: Dance, Health, Intrinsic motivation, Perfectionism, Self-esteem



The relationship between multidimensional perfectionism and passion in junior athletes

Thomas Curran *, Andrew P. Hill **, Gareth E. Jowett *** and Sarah H. Mallinson ***

(*) Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, UK
(**) School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, UK
(***) Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, York St John University, UK

Research suggests that self-oriented perfectionism and socially prescribed perfectionism have unique and distinct motivational properties that are evident among junior athletes. Likewise, harmonious and obsessive passions encompass distinctive patterns of motivation. Based on suggestions that different dimensions of perfectionism may be associated with varying types of passion, the aim of the current study was to test the possibility that self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism could be distinguished based on their relationship with harmonious and obsessive passion in junior athletes. Two hundred and forty-nine athletes (M age = 16.07, SD = 2.22) competing in various youth sports completed measures of perfectionism and passion. Multiple regression and canonical correlation analyses indicated that self-oriented perfectionism predicted higher levels of both types of passion. In contrast, socially prescribed perfectionism predicted only obsessive passion. The findings provide an initial indication that the motivational differences between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism extend to the types of passion they engender. The findings also provide additional insight into the patterns of motivation that are likely to arise from the two dimensions of perfectionism in junior athletes.

Keywords: Motivation, Personality, Sport, Youth



Perfectionism in Sport and Dance: A Double-Edged Sword

Joachim Stoeber

School of Psychology, University of Kent, UK

The author provides comments on the contributions to this special issue on perfectionism in sport and dance focusing on how they provide further support for the view that perfectionism is a “double-edged sword”. In addition, the author gives his personal view on using the tripartite model versus the 2 × 2 model of perfectionism as an analytic framework and, in conclusion, outlines future research on perfectionism in sport and dance that he thinks is needed to further advance our knowledge.

Keywords: Perfectionistic Strivings, Perfectionistic Concerns, Personal Standards Perfectionism, Evaluative Concerns Perfectionism, Sport, Dance, Exercise



“The perils of perfectionism in sports” revisited: Toward a broader understanding of the pressure to be perfect and its impact on athletes and dancers

Gordon L. Flett * and Paul L. Hewitt **

(*) York University, Canada
(**) University of British Columbia, Canada

In the current article, we revisit the role of perfectionism as a maladaptive factor in sports, dance and exercise behavior as an extension of our previous paper on the perils of perfectionism in sports and exercise. New findings described in this special issue are highlighted to illustrate the vulnerabilities of perfectionists and the various costs and consequences that can result from the inflexible and rigid pursuit of perfection and associated ways of evaluating the self and other people. While there is ample evidence of the potential destructiveness of perfectionism among athletes and dancers, we suggest that the current literature paints a more positive view of perfectionism than is warranted according to a person-centered view of the athlete or dancer who is highly perfectionistic. Our analysis focuses on areas of investigation that deserve to be more fully explored in order to gain a better understanding of the costs and consequences of extreme perfectionism, including the mental well-being and physical health of perfectionistic athletes and their ability to cope with injuries. Our analysis emphasizes the self and identity issues that differentiate perfectionistic overstriving from a healthier form of striving for excellence.

Keywords: Perfectionism, sports, standards, socially prescribed perfectionism, perfectionistic self-presentation