A Longitudinal Examination of the Relationships between Perfectionism, Burnout, and Training Distress in Athletes

Madigan, Daniel J. (2017) A Longitudinal Examination of the Relationships between Perfectionism, Burnout, and Training Distress in Athletes. Doctoral thesis, University of Kent.

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The training regimes associated with competitive sport place athletes under both physical and psychological stress. Moreover, there are many further unique stressors associated with competitive sport (e.g., injury risk). This environment can leave athletes susceptible to a number of negative outcomes. Two important outcomes associated with the psychosocial and physiological consequences of sport are burnout syndrome and overtraining syndrome. Burnout and overtraining can have a number of cognitive, affective, motivational, and behavioral consequences (Goodger, Gorely, Lavallee, & Harwood, 2007; Meesuen et al., 2013). Subsequently, sport and exercise psychologists have sought to identify factors that may predispose athletes to these syndromes with a view to reducing their deleterious effects. One factor that has shown particular promise is perfectionism (see Hill & Curran, 2016). Although the existing literature has provided evidence for a relationship between perfectionism and burnout, an over-reliance on cross-sectional correlational designs has meant that conclusions regarding temporality and/or causality have been limited (Taris, 2000). Moreover, the only extant longitudinal study has several methodological limitations (Chen, Kee, & Tsai, 2009). As such, the first three studies of this thesis investigate the longitudinal direct, reciprocal, and mediational effects between perfectionism and athlete burnout. Finally, no study has investigated if perfectionism may predict changes in the susceptibility to overtraining syndrome over time. Using training distress as a marker of overtraining syndrome, the final study of this thesis sought to determine whether perfectionists are predisposed to experience training distress. Study one investigated perfectionism and burnout in junior athletes over a period of three months and the findings showed that perfectionistic strivings predicted decreases in burnout, whereas perfectionistic strivings predicted increases. Replicating and extending study one, study two investigated whether the two dimensions of perfectionism showed interaction effects in predicting changes in burnout in adult athletes over three months. The results of study two showed that the two dimensions of perfectionism interacted, with perfectionistic strivings buffering the incremental effect of perfectionistic concerns. Study three sought to examine whether the quality of motivation would mediate the longitudinal relationship between perfectionism and burnout in junior athletes over a period of six months. The findings of study three showed that autonomous motivation mediated the longitudinal negative relationship between perfectionistic strivings and burnout at both the between- and within-person level, whereas controlled motivation mediated the longitudinal positive relationship between perfectionistic concerns and burnout at the between-person level only. Study four investigated whether the two dimensions of perfectionism also showed divergent relationships with training distress in junior athletes over a period of three months and the findings showed that whereas perfectionistic strivings had a negative cross-sectional association with training distress, perfectionistic concerns had a positive association. Moreover, perfectionistic concerns predicted increases in training distress over the three month period, whereas perfectionistic strivings did not. Taken together, perfectionistic concerns appear to be a factor predisposing athletes to a higher risk of experiencing burnout and training distress, whereas perfectionistic strivings may be a protective factor. These divergent relationships may be explained by autonomous and controlled motivation. With this, the findings of the present thesis provide further evidence for the important role that perfectionism plays in sport.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF698-698.9 Personality
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
School/Department: School of Sport
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3303

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