Gender differences in fear of success: A preliminary validation of the Performance Success Threat Appraisal Inventory

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Objectives:The present study was designed to examine the usefulness of the Performance Success Threat Appraisal Inventory (PSTAI; Metzler & Conroy, 2007) to assess fear of success in male and female elite athletes and its relationships with achievement goal orientations. Introduced originally to explain gender differences in achievement behavior, we verify the usefulness of fear of success (FS) in sport domain by using the emotionally-based definition of FS proposed by Metzler and Conroy (2007), which is operationalized as belief strengths regarding aversive successes that predispose individuals to appraise success as threatening.Methods:Three studies, involving 668 athletes, were designed to assess the multidimensionality of FS, the relationships between FS and personality variable such as anxiety, and the relationships between FS and achievement goals.Results:Component factorial analysis provided structural validity of the PSTAI and Pearson correlations supported the compromise hypothesis developed by Hyland (1989). Males who scored high on FS reported high somatic anxiety, worry, concentration disruption, preoccupation with rewards, and a tendency to suffer a lack of freedom in their relations with others. Regression analysis showed that FS males were predisposed to pursue mastery-avoidance goals. FS was not correlated with anxiety for females.Conclusions:Evidence of the multidimensional structure of the PSTAI was obtained. Consistent with theoretical predictions, elite athletes are interested by mastery approach and they tend to report fear concerning their capabilities to progress, despite effort.

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