Study: A qualitative study of perfectionism among self-identified perfectionists in sport and the performing arts
Abstract: When adopting any measure of perfectionism to examine the characteristic in sport or the performing arts, researchers make assumptions regarding its core features and, sometimes, its effects. So to avoid doing so, in the current study we employed qualitative methods to examine the accounts of self-identified perfectionists. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to explore the opinions and perceptions of high-level, self-identified perfectionists from sport, dance, and music. In particular, we sought to obtain detailed information regarding (a) participants’ perceptions of the main features of being a perfectionist and (b) how they perceived being a perfectionist to influence their lives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 international/ professional athletes, dancers, and musicians. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns and themes within the transcripts. Three overarching themes were identified: drive, accomplishment, and strain. Being a perfectionist was characterized by the participants as having ever-increasing standards, obsessiveness, rigid and dichotomous thinking, and dissatisfaction. The participants also described how being a perfectionist influenced their lives by, on the one hand, providing greater capacity for success in their respective domains but, on the other hand, contributing to varying degrees of personal and interpersonal difficulties. The accounts suggest that, in the main, the content of current models and measures adequately capture the features of being a perfectionist in sport and performing arts. However, a greater focus on obsessiveness, dissatisfaction, and intra- versus interpersonal dimensions of perfectionism would provide further insight into the lives of perfectionists in these domains.
Author: Andrew Hill
Dr. Andy Hill is the Head of Programme for Taught Master’s degrees in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at York St. John University. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Sport Studies (BSc) at De Montfort University and a PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Bedfordshire. He primarily teaches Sport and Exercise Psychology and Research Methods with an emphasis in motivational processes, personality and individual differences. Growing up a big sports fan and keen participant in various sports, Andy can turn on any sports event and get lost in the drama and spectacle of watching athletes perform. He thinks sport is an excellent context in which to view human behavior.
Book: The Psychology of Perfectionism in Sport, Exercise and Dance
Quotes from the Episode:
“On one hand, perfectionism is a kind of powerful motivational force. It makes them train harder, train longer, it provides them a greater capacity for success. But the flip side to this, is they all reported to varying degrees some elements of difficulty coping with their perfectionism.”
“If they (perfectionists) can’t do it perfectly, they don’t do it at all.”
“Any successes are tainted or any successes are in context of this dark cloud that hangs over them.”
“There is nothing wrong with having exceptionally high standards, it’s essential for most domains, including sport, exercise and dance. But what is not essential is for every single little failure you experience that you engage in debilitating self-criticism to the point at which you are unable to persevere and return to the task.”
Study: As Iron Sharpens Iron? Athletes’ Perspectives of Positional Competition
Abstract: The study explored the competition between teammates for playing time (i.e., positional competition) within university team sports from the athletes’ perspective. Sixteen Canadian interuniversity team sport athletes (11 women, 5 men) participated in semistructured interviews. Results revealed that positional competition (a) occurs between players in the same position, (b) is necessary to determine playing time, (c) is an ongoing, omni-present process, and (d) happens under the awareness of the coach. Furthermore, various inputs (by the individual athlete, team, coach), processes (performance-related, information-related), and outcomes (individual, collective) became apparent. Positional competition is a group process that occurs across multiple competitive situations (e.g., practices, games). Future research is needed to clearly define and operationalize it as its own construct.
Author: Sebastian Harenberg
Originally from Germany, he attended both his undergrad and master’s program in Physical Education to become a high school teacher at Göttingen University. He then ventured over to Canada to obtain his PHD from University of Regina in Kinesiology and Health Studies. He completed his PhD in 2014 and has since been working a research scientist for a local health region. On the applied side, Sebastian has played soccer his entire life and other sports such as hockey. Additionally, he has coaching experience at the University of Regina where he coaches women soccer He is currently in transition as he recently accepted a job at Ithaca College in upstate New York.
Quotes from the episode:
“How do coaches keep their bench players, and the players that are sitting in the stands motivated to perform. To me this has become a guiding question that really stuck with me.”
“The players described the competition for playing time not as something that is in a particular situation, so not as something that starts and ends.”
“A lot depends on the coaches, and how the coach structures positional competition. Athletes want to have information on where they stand and how they can improve.”
“When you have a constant information flow, and a constant mechanism of how you can transfer this information to your athletes (feedback on where they stand in a positional battle and why) that is when you see some really effective results."
Study: Interdependence and Social Identity in Youth Sport Teams
Abstract: The degree to which team members believe that they rely on one another to perform successfully and achieve collective outcomes may relate to perceptions about the extent that they integrate the group within their own identity. This study examined the relationship between interdependence and social identity among 422 high school team sport athletes. Youth completed measures of task and outcome interdependence, as well as social identity. Multilevel analyses revealed that higher perceptions of outcome interdependence at an individual and team level predicted greater social identity. Results highlight the role of outcome interdependence on athletes’ perceptions of social identity in sport teams.
Author: Mark Bruner
Dr. Mark Bruner is an associate professor at Nipissing University in Ontario Canada. Mark grew up playing sports in high school and then football and water polo at McMaster University while obtaining a degree in kinesiology. Following his undergraduate degree Mark travelled to Australia to obtain his teaching degree while playing ice hockey. After his time in Australia he returned to Canada to teach high school and coach basketball and football. He soon fostered an interest in sport psychology due to the influence of several friends and notable mentors. Form his many experiences being involved with teams, his research interests followed suit and he was soon examining group dynamics. He now finds himself at Nipissing University with his wife, where his program will be proudly accepting their first cohort of masters students this year.
Study: Mean Girls: Adolescent Female Athletes and Peer Conflict in Sport
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore adolescent female athletes’ experiences with peer conflict. In-depth, semistructured interviews (N = 15) were conducted with female athletes participating in high school/club-level sport. Inductive and deductive content analysis was then completed, and 4 distinct themes emerged regarding interpersonal conflict in the sport domain: causes of sport peer conflict, manifestations of sport peer conflict, outcomes of sport peer conflict, and attempts to reduce conflict. Findings imply that sport peer relationships can result in conflict behaviors that are both consistent with developmental literature and distinctive within the adolescent sport domain.
Author: Julie Partridge
Julie Partridge is an associate professor and faculty athletics representative at Southern Illinois University. She obtained her PHD in Social Psychological Kinesiology from the University of Northern Colorado, her Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and undergraduate degree from Kansas State University. Her research interests include social influence, emotions (specifically shame and embarrassment in sport) and fan behavior.