Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. H. Thompson Prout

Abstract

Although traditional researchers exploring perfectionism frequently cast the construct in a negative light, a steady stream of recent studies have demonstrated that perfectionistic beliefs can yield both positive and negative outcomes. Despite this progression in the research, perfectionism remains an understudied phenomenon among youth, especially as it relates to the ways in which these individuals are perceived by others. The current study builds on the previous literature by exploring adolescent perfectionism across a variety of psychological and psychoeducational dimensions. Moreover, a unique addition to the literature offered by this study was the inclusion of peer-reports along with self-reported measures in hopes of gaining a fuller understanding of the psychosocial characteristics of perfectionistic youth. The incorporation of peer reports also allowed a novel approach to the study of perfectionism by exploring this construct through the lens of their adolescent colleagues. Self and peer reported data was drawn from a sample of 816 ninth grade students representing three separate high schools.

MANOVA results revealed a number of differences between perfectionistic subtypes across both self and peer-reported data. More specifically, adaptive perfectionists rated themselves as having less anxiety and depression as compared to their maladaptive and non-perfectionistic counterparts. Adaptive perfectionists were also reported to have stronger interpersonal relationships and greater social connectivity than their peers. Moreover, both adaptive and maladaptive perfectionists reported significantly higher GPAs than non-perfectionists. Peer informant data indicated that adaptive perfectionists were rated as having the highest academic expectations followed by maladaptive perfectionists and then non-perfectionists. Contrary to expectations, no significant differences were found between cluster groupings on peer reported social withdrawnness.

Findings suggest that adaptive perfectionism is associated with a range of positive psychological, psychoeducational and psychosocial outcomes. Conversely, maladaptive perfectionism appears to be related to several behaviors which may impede healthy adolescent functioning. Implications regarding the improved assessment of perfectionism and intervention strategies aimed at both students and professionals working within the school domain are discussed.

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