The Relationship Between Perfectionism and Self-Handicapping in Distance Runners
Keywords:perfectionism, self-handicapping, self-esteem, distance running
Perfectionism is believed to be a common trait among endurance athletes given the substantial time, energy, and planning required to perform successfully. When perfection is not perceived to be possible, self-protective behavior, often referred to as self-handicapping, may be observed. Thus, the purpose of this study was i) to measure perfectionism in distance runners, and ii) to determine whether there is a relationship between the type of perfectionism reported and self-handicapping tendencies. Participants (N = 158) completed a demographic and running history questionnaire, the 15-item Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Hewitt et al., 2008), and the 14-item Self-Handicapping Scale (Rhodewalt, 1990). Moderate levels of self-oriented (SOP), other-oriented (OOP), and socially prescribed perfectionism (SPP) were observed, which is in line with previous studies (Jowett et al., 2018). Significant positive correlations were found between OOP (r = .183) and SPP (r = .345) and self-handicapping tendencies. Furthermore, age and SPP emerged as significant predictors for self-handicapping tendencies. These results may be explained through the self-esteem protection provided by self-handicapping (Hill et al., 2011). High perceived expectations from others could result in excuse-making in order to justify potential failures. These findings provide initiating evidence for research regarding the psychology of recreational endurance athletes.
Appleton, P. R., Hall, H. K., & Hill, A. P. (2010). Family patterns of perfectionism: An examination of elite junior athletes and their parents. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11(5), 363–371. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.04.005
Atkinson, J. W. (1957). Motivational determinants of risk-taking behavior. Psychological Review, 64, 359-372. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0043445
Berglas, S., & Jones, E. E. (1978). Drug choice as a self-handicapping strategy in response to noncontingent success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 405-417. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.525
Birch, H. A., Riby, L. M., & McGann, D. (2019). Perfectionism and PERMA: The benefits of other-oriented perfectionism. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9, 20-42. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v9i1.749
Campbell, J. D., & Paula, A. D. (2002). Perfectionistic self-beliefs: Their relation to personality and goal pursuit. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 181–198). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10458-007
Cohen, P., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2014). Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed.). Psychology Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410606266
Coudevylle, G. R., Gernigon, C. & Ginis, K. A. M. (2011). Self-esteem, self-confidence, anxiety and claimed self-handicapping: A mediational analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 670-675. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.05.008
Costa, S., Hausenblas, H. A., Oliva, P., Cuzzocrea, F., & Larcan, R. (2016). Maladaptive perfectionism as mediator among psychological control, eating disorders, and exercise dependence symptoms in habitual exercisers. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5(1), 77–89. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.004
Coudevylle, G. R., Ginis, K. A. M., Famose, J., & Gernigon, C. (2009). An experimental investigation of the determinants and consequences of self-handicapping strategies across motivational climates. European Journal of Sport Science, 9, 219-227. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461390902780437
Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A. G., & Buchner, A. (2007). G* Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39(2), 175-191. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193146
Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th ed.). SAGE Publications.
Flett, G. L., Blankstein, K. R., Hewitt, P. L., & Koledin, S. (1992). Components of perfectionism and procrastination in college students. Social Behavior and Personality, 20, 85-94. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.19184.108.40.206
Frost, R. O., Heimberg, R. G., Holt, C. S., Mattia, J. I., & Neubauer, A. L. (1993). A comparison of two measures of perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 14, 119-126. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(93)90181-2
González-Hernández, J., Nogueira, A., Zangeneh, M., & López-Mora, C. (2021). Exercise addiction and perfectionism, joint in the same path? A systematic review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 16, 199-206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00476-w
Gotwals, J.K., Stoeber, J., Dunn, J. G. H., & Stoll, O. (2012). Are perfectionistic strivings in sport adaptive? A systematic review of confirmatory, contradictory, and mixed evidence. Canadian Psychology, 53, 263-279. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030288
Hall, H. K., Hill, A. P., Appleton, P. R., & Kozub, S. A. (2009). The mediating influence of unconditional self-acceptance and labile self-esteem on the relationship between multidimensional perfectionism and exercise dependence. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10, 35-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2008.05.003
Hauck, C., Schipfer, M., Ellrott, T., & Cook, B. (2020). “Always do your best!” - The relationship between food addiction, exercise dependence, and perfectionism in amateur athletes. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, 50, 114- 122. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12662-019-00609-x
Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1991). Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: Conceptualization, assessment, and association with psycho-pathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 456-470. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.116
Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (2004). Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale: Technical manual. Multi-Health Systems Inc.
Hewitt, P. L., Habke, A. M., Lee-Baggley, D. L., Sherry, S. B., Flett, G. L. (2008). The impact of perfectionistic self-presentation on the cognitive, affective, and physiological experience of a clinical interview. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 71, 93-122. https://doi.org/10.1521/psyc.2008.71.2.93
Hill, A. P., Hall, H. K., Duda, J. L., Appleton, P. R. (2011). The cognitive, affective and behavioural responses of self-oriented perfectionists following successive failure on a muscular endurance task. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 9, 189-207. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2011.567108
Hill, A. P., Mallison-Howard, S. H., & Jowett, G. E. (2018). Multidimensional perfectionism in sport: A meta-analytical review. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 7, 235-270. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000125
Hill, R. W., McIntire, K., & Bacharach, V. R. (1997). Perfectionism and the big five factors. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 12, 257-270.
Hill, A. P., Robson, S. J., & Stamp, G. M. (2015). The predictive ability of perfectionistic traits and self-presentational styles in relation to exercise dependence. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 176-183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.06.015.
Jowett, G. E., Hill, A. P., Forsdyke, D., & Gledhill, A. (2018). Perfectionism and coping with injury in marathon runners: A test of the 2x2 model of perfectionism. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 26-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.04.003
Jowett, G.E., Hill, A.P., Hall, H.K. and Curran, T. (2016) Perfectionism, burnout and engagement in youth sport: The mediating role of basic psychological needs. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 24, 18-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2016.01.001
Kazak, A. E. (2018). Editorial: Journal article reporting standards. American Psychologist, 73, 1-2. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000263
Kearns, H., Forbes, A., & Gardiner, M. (2007). A cognitive behavioral coaching intervention for the treatment of perfectionism and self-handicapping in a nonclinical population.Behaviour Change, 24, 157-172. https://doi.org/10.1375/bech.24.3.157
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2019). The development of goal setting theory: A half century retrospective. Motivation Science, 5, 93-105. https://doi.org/10.1037/mot0000127
Mallinson-Howard, S. H., Madigan, D. J., Jowett, G. E. (2021). A three-sample study of perfectionism and field test performance in athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 21, 1045-1053. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2020.1811777
Martin, J. J., Eklund, R. C., & Smith, A. L. (1994). The relationships among competitiveness, age, and ability in distance runners. Journal of Sport Behavior, 17, 258-267.
Martin, K. A., & Brawley, L. R. (1999). Is the Self- Handicapping Scale reliable in non-academic achievement domains? Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 901-912.
Martin, K. A., Leary, M. R., & Rejeski, W. J. (2000). Self-presentational concerns in older adults: Implications for health and well-being. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 169-179. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15324834BASP2203_5
Pacht, A. R. (1984). Reflections on perfection. American Psychologist, 39, 386-390. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.39.4.386
Pannhausen, S., Klug, K., & Rohrmann, S. (2020). Never good enough: The relation between the imposter phenomenon and multidimensional perfectionism. Current Psychology, 41, 888–901. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00613-7
Powers, T. A., Koestner, R., Zuroff, D. C., Milyavskaya, M., & Gorin, A. A. (2011). The effects of self- criticism and self-oriented perfectionism on goal pursuit. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(7), 964–975. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167211410246
Prapavessis, H., Grove, R., Maddison, R., and Zillman, N. (2003). Self-handicapping tendencies, coping, and anxiety responses among athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 4, 357-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00020-1
Rhodewalt, F. (1990). Self-handicappers: Individual differences in the reference for anticipatory, self-protective acts. In R. L. Higgins, C. R. Snyder, & S. Berglas (Eds.), Self-handicapping: The paradox that isn’t (pp. 69-106). Plenum Press.
Robinson, A., Diver, R., Moscardini, E., & Calamia, M. (2021). Perfectionism, conscientiousness, and neuroticism: Does age matter? Personality and Individual Differences, 172, 110563. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110563
Sederlund, A. P., Burns, L. R., & Rogers, W. (2020). Multidimensional models of perfectionism and procrastination: Seeking determinants of both. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 5099. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145099
Shields, C. A., & Paskevich, D. M. (2001). Examination of the self-handicapping scale and its extension for use in exercise. AVANTE, 7, 1-10.
Smith, M. M., Saklofske, D. H., & Nordstokke, D. W. (2014). The link between neuroticism and perfectionistic concerns: The mediating effect of trait emotional intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 61-62, 97-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2013.12.013
Stewart, M. A., & De George-Walker, L. (2014). Self-handicapping, perfectionism, locus of control and self-efficacy. Personality and Individual Differences, 66, 160-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.03.038
Stoeber, J. (2011). The dual nature of perfectionism in sports: relationships with emotion, motivation, and performance. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4, 128-145. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2011.604789
Stoeber, J. (2015). How other-oriented perfectionism differs from self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism: Further findings. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 37, 611-623. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-015-9485-y
Stoeber, J., Haskew, A. E. & Scott, C. (2015). Perfectionism and exam performance: The mediating effect of task-approach goals. Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 171-176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.10.016
Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive conceptions of perfectionism: Approaches, evidence, challenges. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 295-319. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327957pspr1004_2
Stoeber, J., Uphill, M. A., & Hotham, S. (2009) Predicting race performance in triathlon: The role of perfectionism, achievement goals, and personal goal setting. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31, 211-245. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.31.2.211
Tabachnick, B. G., Fidell, L. S., & Ullman, J. B. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (Vol. 5, pp. 481-498). Pearson.
Terry-Short, L. A., Owens, R. G., Slade, R D., & Dewey, M. E. (1995). Positive and negative perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 18, 663-668. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(94)00192-U
Török, L., Szabó, Z. P., & Tóth, L. (2018). A critical review of the literature on academic self-handicapping: Theory, manifestations, prevention and measurement. Social Psychology of Education, 21, 1175-1202. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-018-9460-z
Vacca, M., De Maria, A., Mallia, L., & Lombardo, C. (2021). Perfectionism and eating behavior in the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 12(58093), 1-13. https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2021.580943
Waleriańczyk, W., & Stolarski, M. (2021). Personality and sport performance: The role of perfectionism, Big Five traits, and anticipated performance in predicting the results of distance running competitions. Personality and Individual Differences, 169, 109993. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.109993
Warner, R. M. (2020). Applied statistics I: Basic bivariate techniques (3rd ed.). SAGE Publications.