An examination of maladaptive and adaptive perfectionism in the exercise domain

Jay-Lee Longbottom

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    913 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] A growing body of research has indicated that maladaptive and adaptive forms of perfectionism underpin fundamentally distinct cognitive and behavioral processes (Stoeber, Stoll, Pescheck, & Otto, 2008). The study of adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism specific to the exercise setting has largely been neglected and may provide clues as to how healthy or dysfunctional forms of exercise behavior are initiated and maintained. To date, the examination of perfectionism in relation to exercise has emphasized the role perfectionism plays in maladjustment. However, emphasizing the negative indicators of perfectionism, mainly due to clinical concerns, may come at the cost of understanding its positive or adaptive aspect (Bergman, Nyland, & Burns, 2007). The empirical chapters in this thesis present perfectionism research indicating that specific patterns of goal orientations and motives help to define the nature of perfectionistic striving. The opening study of this thesis investigates the associations between dimensions of perfectionism and cognitive and behavioral aspects of physical activity motivation. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism (Cox, Enns, & Clara, 2002) and the four factor model of physical activity motivation (Martin, 2010; Martin, Tipler, Marsh, Richards, & Williams, 2006), utilizing data from 215 undergraduate students. Results supported a model in which adaptive perfectionism was positively associated with adaptive behavioral and cognitive aspects of motivation that reflected self-efficacy, planning, and persistence in physical activity. Maladaptive perfectionism was significantly associated with impeding and maladaptive motivation dimensions that reflect uncertainty about the conduct of exercise, fear of failure, and avoidance of physical activity.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


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