Positive Perfectionism: Seeking the Healthy “Should”, or Should We?

DOI: 10.4236/jss.2014.28005   PDF   HTML     5,618 Downloads   7,740 Views   Citations


Using a prospective design we examined the nomological network of positive and negative perfectionism by considering relations with optimism, pessimism, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and variables of health and psychological well-being. Positive perfectionism was found to have a large amount of variance in common with optimism and conscientiousness and negative perfectionism was found to share a large amount of variance with pessimism and neuroticism, but not enough to be considered redundant in either case. Importantly, both positive and negative perfectionism were found to add significant incremental validity to the prediction of the criterion measures even after controlling for the influence of time one variables. Implications of these findings for future research on perfectionism are discussed.

Share and Cite:

Andrews, D. , Burns, L. and Dueling, J. (2014) Positive Perfectionism: Seeking the Healthy “Should”, or Should We?. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 27-34. doi: 10.4236/jss.2014.28005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Pacht, A.R. (1984) Reflections on Perfectionism. American Psychologist, 39, 386-390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.39.4.386
[2] Frost, R.O., Marten, P., Lahart, C. and Rosenblate, R. (1990) The Dimensions of Perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 449-468. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01172967
[3] Hewitt, P.L. and Flett, G.L. (1991) Perfectionism in the Self and Social Contexts: Conceptualization, Assessment and Association with Psychopathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 456-470. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.60.3.456
[4] Burns, D.D. (1980, November) The Perfectionist’s Script for Self-defeat. Psychology Today, 34-51.
[5] Terry-Short, L.A, Owens, R.G., Slade, P.D. and Dewey, M.E. (1995) Positive and Negative Perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 18, 663-668. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(94)00192-U
[6] Norman, R.M.G., Davies, R., Nicholoson, I.R., Cortese, L. and Malla, A.K. (1998) The Relationship of Two Aspects of Perfectionism with Symptoms in a Psychiatric Outpatient Population. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 17, 50-68. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/jscp.1998.17.1.50
[7] Rhéaume, J., Freeston, M.H., Ladouceur, R., Bouchard, C., Gallant, L., Talbot, F. and Vallières, A. (2000) Functional and Dysfunctional Perfectionists: Are They Different on Compulsive-like Behaviors? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 119-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7967(98)00203-4
[8] Slaney, R.B., Rice, K.G. and Ashby, J.S. (2002) A Program-matic Approach to Measuring Perfectionism: The Almost Perfect Scales. In: Flett, G.L. and Hewitt, P.L., Eds., Perfectionism: Theory, Research, and Treatment, American Psychological Association, Washington DC, Chapter 3, 63-88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/10458-003
[9] Greenspon, T.S. (2000) “Healthy Perfectionism” Is an Oxymoron! The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 4, 197- 208.
[10] Slade, P.D. and Owens, R. (1998) A Dual Process Model of Perfectionism Based on Reinforcement Theory. Behavior Modification, 22, 372-390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/01454455980223010
[11] Slade, P.D., Coppel, D.B. and Townes, B.D. (2009) Neurocognitive Correlates of Positive and Negative Perfectionism. International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 1741-1754. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207450902915212
[12] Parker, W.D. and Adkins, K.K. (1995) A Psychometric Examina-tion of the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 17, 323-334. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02229054
[13] Orange, C. (1997) Gifted Students and Perfectionism. Roeper Review, 20, 39-43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02783199709553849
[14] Hamachek, D.E. (1978) Psychodynamics of Normal and Neurotic Perfectionism. Psychology, 15, 27-33.
[15] Slade, P.D., Newton, T., Butler, N.M. and Murphy, P. (1991) An Experi-mental Analysis of Perfectionism and Dissatisfaction. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 169-176. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1991.tb00932.x
[16] Black, J. and Reynolds, W.M. (2013) Examining the Relationship of Perfectionism, Depression, and Optimism: Testing for Mediation or Moderation. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 426-431. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.10.012
[17] Ulu, I.P. and Tezer, E. (2010) Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfec-tionism, Adult Attachment, and the Big Five Personality Traits. The Journal of Psychology, 144, 327-340. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00223981003784032
[18] Wang, K.T., Slaney, R.B. and Rice, K.G. (2007) Perfectionism in Chinese University Students from Taiwan: A Study of Psychological Well-Being and Achievement Motivation. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 1279-1290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2006.10.006
[19] Papadomarkaki, E. and Portinou, S. (2012) Clinical Perfectionism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psychiatrike, 23, 61-71.
[20] Owens, R.G. and Slade, P.D. (2008) So Perfect It’s Positively Harmful? Reflections on the Adaptiveness and Maladaptiveness of Positive and Negative Perfectionism. Behavior Modification, 32, 928-937. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0145445508319667
[21] Hanchon, T.A. (2010) The Relations between Perfectionism and Achievement Goals. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 885-890. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.07.023
[22] Mitchelson, J.K. and Burns, L.R. (1998) Career Mothers and Perfectionism: Stress at Work and at Home. Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 477-485. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(98)00069-5
[23] Burns, L.R., Dittmann, K.L., Nguyen, N.L. and Mitchelson, J.K. (2000) Academic Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Control: Associations with Vigilant and Avoidant Coping. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 35-46.
[24] Flett, G., Hewitt, P., Blankenstein, K. and Koledin, S. (1991) Dimensions of Perfectionism and Irrational Thinking. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 9, 185-201. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01061229
[25] Scheier, M.E. and Carver, C.S. (1985) Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies. Health Psychology, 4, 219-247. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.4.3.219
[26] Fry, P.S. (1994) Perfectionism, Humor, and Optimism as Moderators of Health Outcomes and Determinants of Coping Styles of Women Executives. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 121, 211-245.
[27] Cruce, S.E., Pashak, T.J., Handal, P.J., Munz, D.C. and Gfeller, J.D. (2012) Conscientious Perfectionism, Self-Evaluative Perfectionism, and the Five-Factor Model of Personality Traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 268-273. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.03.013
[28] Hill, R.W., Huelsman, T.J., Furr, M., Kibler, J., Vincente, B.B. and Kennedy, C. (2004) A New Measure of Perfectionism: The Perfectionism Inventory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82, 80-91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa8201_13
[29] Diener, E., Emmons, R.A., Larsen, R.J. and Griffin, S. (1985) The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13
[30] Diener, E., Suh, E.M., Lucas, R.E. and Smith, H. (1999) Subjective Well-Being: Three Decades of Progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276
[31] Allison, D.B., Alfonso, V.C. and Dunn, G.M. (1991) The Extended Satisfaction with Life Scale. The Behavioral Therapist, 5, 15-16.
[32] Chang, E.C., D’Zurilla, T.J. and May-deu-Olivares, A. (1997) Optimism and Pessimism as Partially Independent Constructs: Relationship to Positive and Negative Affectivity and Psychological Well-Being. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 433-440. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(97)80009-8
[33] Weidner, G., Kohlman, C.-W., Dotzauer, E. and Burns, L.R. (1996) The Effects of Academic Stress on Health Behaviors in Young Adults. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 9, 123-133.
[34] Watson, D., Clark, L.A. and Tellegen, A. (1988) Development and Validation of Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063
[35] Stoeber, J. and Otto, K. (2006) Positive Conceptions of Perfectionism: Approaches, Evidence, Challenges. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 295-319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327957pspr1004_2
[36] Chang, E.C., D’Zurilla, T.J. and Maydeu-Olivares, A. (1994) Assessing the Dimensionality of Optimism and Pessimism Using a Multimeasure Approach. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18, 143-160. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02357221
[37] Dember, W.N., Martin, S., Hummer, M.K., Howe, S. and Melton, R. (1989) The Measurement of Optimism and Pessimism. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 8, 102-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02686675
[38] Costa Jr., P.T. and McCrae, R.R. (1992) Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO Five-factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa, FL.
[39] Carver, C.S. and White, T.L. (1994) Behavioral Inhibition, Behavioral Activation, and Affective Responses to Impending Reward and Punishment: The BIS/BAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.67.2.319
[40] Hettler, B. (1982) Wellness Promotion and Risk Reduction on a University Campus. In: Faber, M. and Reinhardt, A., Eds., Promoting Health through Risk Reduction, Macmillan, New York, 207-238.
[41] Richter, J.M. (1988) Reliability and Validity of the Lifestyles Assessment Questionnaire. In: Waltz, C.F. and Strickland, D.L., Eds., Measurement of Nursing Outcomes, Springer, New York, 352-376.
[42] Nunnally, J.C. (1978) Psychometric Theory. 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill, Toronto.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.