An investigation of positive and negative perfectionism
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Perfectionism has long been recognized as a factor that is central to understanding psychological disorders, as it is significantly higher in the majority of psychological disorders compared to the general population. The construct of perfectionism was examined in this research by exploring differences between positive and negative perfectionism. The literature to date has focused almost exclusively on perfectionism as a maladaptive construct, with little research examining if perfectionism can be a positive factor. The implication of the study was to determine if some factors identified may be potentially important in future treatments targeted towards perfectionism, as there is some evidence to suggest that perfectionism may predict poorer response to standard cognitive behavioural treatment. This research compared three different groups; (i) a clinical group with diagnoses of anxiety and depression (n = 40); (ii) a group of athletes (n = 111) and (iii) a student control group (n = 101). The research consisted of 5 studies. In Study 1, evidence was found for the validity, consistency of factor structure and internal consistency of the Positive and Negative Perfectionism Subscale (PANPS; Terry-Short, Owens, Slade, & Dewey, 1995). In Study 2, clinical participants with a range of diagnoses were found to have significantly higher overall perfectionism and negative perfectionism compared to athletes and controls. Rigidity predicted higher positive perfectionism. Dichotomous thinking accounted for a large proportion of variance in negative perfectionism, and was argued to be an important factor distinguishing between positive and negative perfectionism. In Study 3, positive perfectionism was found to relate to faster performance time in athletes competing in triathlons, and negative perfectionism was not found to impede sporting performance.The Big Five personality domains were investigated in Study 4, and Agreeableness was found to be a significant predictor of negative perfectionism in the clinical group. In comparing clinical and athlete groups, athletes had significantly lower Neuroticism, and higher Extraversion and Conscientiousness. Study 5 was a clinical descriptive study that examined motivation to change and cognitions about failure in a select sample of clinical participants with extreme high scores on negative perfectionism and athletes with extreme low scores. The clinical participants reported many negative consequences, yet despite this recognition, the majority reported they did not wish to change perfectionism. Also, as the level of negative perfectionism increased, the degree of diagnostic comorbidity increased. It was concluded that it may be more useful to distinguish between positive achievement striving and negative perfectionism rather than positive and negative perfectionism. Clinical implications were outlined which included targeting dichotomous thinking and resistance to change in the development of treatments for perfectionism.
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Egan, Sarah; Piek, Jan; Dyck, M. (2015)© The Author(s) 2015. Perfectionism has been argued to have both positive and negative aspects. Negative perfectionism has a robust positive correlation with psychopathology. This study explored the personality pattern ...
A Clinical Investigation of Motivation to Change Standards and Cognitions about Failure in PerfectionismEgan, Sarah; Piek, Jan Patricia; Dyck, M.; Rees, Clare; Hagger, Martin (2013)Background: Clinical perfectionism is a transdiagnostic process that has been found to maintain eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression. Cognitive behavioural models explaining the maintenance of clinical ...
Egan, Sarah; Piek, Jan; Dyck, Murray; Rees, Clare (2007)Perfectionism is a complex psychological construct that has been defined in many different ways. Recent conceptualisations of perfectionism have involved dividing the construct into positive and negative components. ...