Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 297–324

Perfectionism, Cognition, and Affect in Response to Performance Failure vs. Success


  • Avi Besser
    • Department of Behavioral SciencesSapir Academic College
  • Gordon L. Flett
    • York University
  • Paul L. Hewitt
    • University of British Columbia

DOI: 10.1023/B:JORE.0000047313.35872.5c

Cite this article as:
Besser, A., Flett, G.L. & Hewitt, P.L. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (2004) 22: 297. doi:10.1023/B:JORE.0000047313.35872.5c


The current paper describes the results of an experiment in which 200 students who varied in levels of trait perfectionism performed a laboratory task of varying levels of difficulty. Participants received either negative or positive performance feedback, independent of their actual level of performance. Analyses of pre-task and post-task measures of negative and positive affect showed that individuals with high self-oriented perfectionism experienced a general increase in negative affect after performing the task, and self-oriented perfectionists who received negative performance feedback were especially likely to report decreases in positive affect. Additional analyses showed that self-oriented perfectionists who received negative feedback responded with a cognitive orientation characterized by performance dissatisfaction, cognitive rumination, and irrational task importance. In contrast, there were relatively few significant differences involving other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism. Collectively, our findings support the view that self-oriented perfectionism is a vulnerability factor involving negative cognitive and affective reactions following failure experiences that reflect poorly on the self.

PerfectionismCognitionPerformance feedbackAnxietyDepressionHostility.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004