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After experiencing failure, athletes reflect on this event either in a self-enhancing or self-deprecating way. Very little is known about either how athletes explain failure, or about how they perceive themselves after such an occurrence. To address this issue, the present study investigated whether athletes’ perfectionism scores are associated with how they perceive the cause of their personal failure as well as their scores on the Better Than Average Effect (BTAE). This online study of 126 athletes found that those high in perfectionistic strivings, the adaptive component of perfectionism, attributed the cause of failure in a self-enhancing way. While athletes high in perfectionistic concerns, the maladaptive component of perfectionism, attributed failure ina self-effacing way, and also showed an antipodean relationship with the BTAE. Potential explanations for these patterns are given. Finally, theoretical, methodological and practical suggestions are put forward that could be applied by sports psychologists, and to stimulate future research.
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