The dimensions of perfectionism

Abstract

Perfectionism is a major diagnostic criterion for one DSM-III diagnosis, and it has been hypothesized to play a major role in a wide variety of psychopathologies. Yet there is no precise definition of, and there is a paucity of research on, this construct. Based on what has been theorized about perfectionism, a multidimensional measure was developed and several hypotheses regarding the nature of perfectionism were tested in four separate studies. The major dimension of this measure was excessive concern over making mistakes. Five other dimensions were identified, including high personal standards, the perception of high parental expectations, the perception of high parental criticism, the doubting of the quality of one's actions, and a preference for order and organization. Perfectionism and certain of its subscales were correlated with a wide variety of psychopathological symptoms. There was also an association between perfectionism and procrastination. Several subscales of the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS), personal standards and organization, were associated with positive achievement striving and work habits. The MPS was highly correlated with one of the existing measures of perfectionism. Two other existing measures were only moderately correlated with the MPS and with each other. Future studies of perfectionism should take into account the multidimensional nature of the construct.

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Correspondence to Randy O. Frost.

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Frost, R.O., Marten, P., Lahart, C. et al. The dimensions of perfectionism. Cogn Ther Res 14, 449–468 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01172967

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Key words

  • perfectionism
  • perfectionistic thinking
  • personal standards
  • self-evaluation