Perfectionism

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Perfectionism; the Why Behind the What
Kaci Allen
Lipscomb University

Perfectionism, by mere appellation, is often construed as a narrowly focused, single-minded adjective describing a typical “type A” personality. The perfectionist is often known as one who finds it both hard to please himself and who exerts most of his time and energy in a neurotic attempt to please others. While nomenclature has it’s place, generally defining a group of people with perfectionistic tendencies, it disregards the more intricate underlying pieces of not only why certain attributes manifest themselves, but also the way in which they appear and are observed.

This article suggests that perfectionism is, rather, multidimensional in nature, coupling personal and social aspects that can contribute and perhaps lead to severe levels of psychopathology including schizophrenia. “We describe three dimensions of perfectionism: self-oriented perfectionism, other-oriented perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism.” (Hewitt & Flett, 1991) Five studies are presented within the text validating the multidimensionality and reliability of these tendencies with one focusing on how the three dimensions engage different personality disorders and even psychological maladjustment.

Study 1 evaluated a group of students on a basic 7-point Likert scale, initiated by three undergraduates and one graduate student. The items presented were edited down to 122 possibilities. The results of this study confirm that the three dimensions are overall internally consistent, validating that socially prescribed and other-oriented perfectionism create a less socially desirable person.

Study 2 performed a similar 7-point scale, introducing a second component of an observer rating, to help distinguish between what behaviors are externally observable rather than merely self-reporting biases. Results added few gender variations on levels of perfectionism.

Study 3 introduced the MPS and...
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