Perfectionism, coping, and burnout among intercollegiate varsity athletes: A person-oriented investigation of group differences and mediation

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The current study examined whether athletes, classified according to their perfectionism profile, differed across burnout and coping function and whether differences in burnout were mediated by coping.




American intercollegiate varsity athletes (N = 173; 50% female; M age = 19.83 years) completed measures assessing their perfectionistic tendencies towards sport, their perceptions of burnout, and the function of their coping efforts in sport. Latent profile analysis followed by the three-step method (Asparouhov & Muthén, 2014) was used to classify participants according to their perfectionistic tendencies and to identify class differences in burnout and coping. Regression analyses were used to test whether coping function mediated class differences in burnout.


A 3-class model was adopted that classified participants into mixed perfectionists, pure personal standards perfectionists, and nonperfectionists as defined in the 2 × 2 model (Gaudreau & Thompson, 2010). Mixed perfectionists showed the highest levels of athlete burnout and reported using avoidant coping to a greater extent and emotion-focused coping to a lesser extent, than pure personal standards perfectionists. Despite these differences, coping function was not identified as a mediator of class differences in burnout.


The distinction between mixed perfectionists, pure personal standards perfectionists, and nonperfectionists appears to be useful for the classification of perfectionistic orientations endorsed by North American high-performance athletes. Whereas mixed perfectionists appear to be the most susceptible to athlete burnout, the function of their coping efforts in sport was not identified as a mechanism behind this characteristic.

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