PhD defense: Too perfect to be healthy?

A quantitative and qualitative study of perfectionism, expectations, and mental health among students aged 13-16 in specialized sports, performing arts and regular lower secondary school



October 13


Aud. Innsikt, Norges idrettshøgskule




Brief about the thesis

A quantitative and qualitative study of perfectionism, expectations, and mental health among students aged 13-16 in specialized sports-, performing arts- and regular lower secondary school.

When the project was initiated, few studies had investigated perfectionism related to mental health among such young Norwegian student-performers (aged 13-16 years ) who attend specialized schools for sports, ballet, and music.

Concerns have been raised among researchers and practitioners about an increasing professionalization of very young performers. Such concerns are related, amongst others, to the disproportionately high expectations and pressures it may create, which may result in negative experiences and influence young aspiring performers’ mental health and well-being.

The overarching aim of the PhD project was to gain further knowledge and provide further insight into  young performers' and school-aged students perfectionism, expectations, and mental health. Two of the studies compared the student-performers at specialized schools with teenagers attending schools without specialization in sports, ballet, or classical music.

Knowledge from the Ph.D. can be valuable and contribute to the field and those working with young people, like school management, teachers, coaches, and educators both inside and outside the schools. A knowledge contribution that can help safeguard young students’ health and performance development.

Published articles:

Article 1:

Profiles of Perfectionism Among Adolescents Attending Specialized Elite- and Ordinary Lower Secondary Schools: A Norwegian Cross-Sectional Comparative Study

Article 2:

Mental health profiles among 13-16-year-Old Norwegian talent and mainstream students - A prospective person-centered analytical approach - ScienceDirect

Article 3:

Self-Expectations, Socially Prescribed Expectations, and Wellness in 14- to 15-Year-Old Athletes, Ballet, and Music Students in Norwegian Talent Schools—An Interview Study in: The Sport Psychologist Volume 37 Issue 2 (2023)


Main Supervisor: Jorunn Sundgot Borgen, professor NIH, Department of Sports Medicine.

Co-Supervisor: Gunn Pettersen, professor UIT, Department of Health and Care Sciences.


Chair: Associate Professor Marte Bentzen, NIH

Opponents: Professor Martyn Standage, University of Bath

Dr. Gareth E. Jowett, Leeds Beckett University



10:15-11:00 Trial Lecture: Facilitating Mental Health and Resilience among Students in Talent Development Schools: Exploring Opportunities, Navigating Pitfalls, and Applying Evidence-Informed Strategies

1:00-4:00 pm Defense of the thesis "Too perfect to be healthy?


General information

The defense is open to the public and will be streamed on NIH's YouTube channel.