Perfectionism, achievement motives, and attribution of success and failure in female soccer players

  • Stoeber J
  • Becker C
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While some researchers have identified adaptive perfectionism as a key characteristic to achieving elite performance in sport, others see perfectionism as a maladaptive characteristic that undermines, rather than helps, athletic performance. Arguing that perfectionism in sport contains both adaptive and maladaptive facets, the present article presents a study of N = 74 female soccer players investigating how two facets of perfectionism--perfectionistic strivings and negative reactions to imperfection (Stoeber, Otto, Pescheck, Becker, & Stoll, 2007)--are related to achievement motives and attributions of success and failure. Results show that striving for perfection was related to hope of success and self-serving attributions (internal attribution of success). Moreover, once overlap between the two facets of perfectionism was controlled for, striving for perfection was inversely related to fear of failure and self-depreciating attributions (internal attribution of failure). In contrast, negative reactions to imperfection were positively related to fear of failure and self-depreciating attributions (external attribution of success) and inversely related to self-serving attributions (internal attribution of success and external attribution of failure). It is concluded that striving for perfection in sport is associated with an adaptive pattern of positive motivational orientations and self-serving attributions of success and failure, which may help athletic performance. In contrast, negative reactions to imperfection are associated with a maladaptive pattern of negative motivational orientations and self-depreciating attributions, which is likely to undermine athletic performance. Consequently, perfectionism in sport may be adaptive in those athletes who strive for perfection, but can control their negative reactions when performance is less than perfect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).

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  • Joachim Stoeber

  • Claudia Becker

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