The development of perfectionism: A study of daughters and their parents

Abstract

The major theme in theorizing about the development of perfectionism is that it is a product of perfectionistic and demanding parents. The two studies reported here represent the first attempt to test this assumption. In study 1, perfectionism was measured in both daughters and their parents. In study 2, perfectionism in both daughters and their parents, related parental characteristics, and levels of psychopathology among daughters were measured. The findings from both studies indicated that mothers' perfectionism, but not fathers', was associated with perfectionism among daughters. In addition, daughters' ratings of fathers' harshness, but not fathers' self-reported harshness, were associated with daughters' perfectionism. For mothers, daughters' ratings of mothers' harshness and mothers' self-reported harshness were associated with perfectionism among daughters. A combination of mothers' Overall Perfectionism and mothers' self-reported harshness accounted for 30% of the variance in daughters' Overall Perfectionism. Additional findings suggested that mothers' perfectionism was associated with greater symptoms of psychopathology among daughters, while fathers' perfectionism was associated with lower levels of symptomatology.

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Correspondence to Randy O. Frost.

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Frost, R.O., Lahart, C.M. & Rosenblate, R. The development of perfectionism: A study of daughters and their parents. Cogn Ther Res 15, 469–489 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01175730

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Key words

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