Exercise Dependence and Maladaptive Perfectionism: the Mediating Role of Basic Psychological Needs

  • Sebastiano CostaEmail author
  • Paola Coppolino
  • Patrizia Oliva


The main purpose of the present investigation, based on Self-Determination Theory, was to examine the mediating role of basic psychological needs (Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness) on the relationship between exercise dependence and maladaptive perfectionism. Participants were 169 Italian subjects, of whom 85 were male and 84 were female (age: M = 22.76; SD = 4.99), who regularly performed exercise for more than a year. A Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analysis showed that the full mediation model in which maladaptive perfectionism was only indirectly related to exercise dependence through needs satisfaction and needs thwarting yielded an acceptable fit χ2 (99) = 175.25, p < .01; CFI = .93; NNFI = .91; SRMR = .07, RMSEA = .07 (90 % CI = .05–.08). Maladaptive perfectionism had a direct positive effect on needs thwarting (β = .51, p < .001; 95 % CI = .35 to .66). Exercise dependence was both positively related to needs satisfaction (β = .36, p < .001; 95 % CI = .13 to .57) and to needs thwarting (β = .48, p < .001; 95 % CI = .24 to .69). Furthermore, psychological needs thwarting exclusively mediates the influence of maladaptive perfectionism on exercise dependence (β = .21, p < .05; 95 % CI = .03 to .39). These findings contribute to better understanding the factors that may underpin the relationship between exercise dependence and perfectionism in light of self-determination theory.


Exercise dependence Perfectionism Basic psychological needs Self-determination theory Need thwarting 


Authors’ contribution

SC assisted with generation of the initial draft of the manuscript, data analyses, study design and concept. PC assisted with manuscript preparation, manuscript editing, interpretation of data, study design and concept, PO assisted with manuscript editing, study supervision, design and concept. All authors take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Social SciencesUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly

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