Advertisement

Perfectionism, social problem-solving ability, and psychological distress

  • Gordon L. Flett
  • Paul L. Hewitt
  • Kirk R. Blankstein
  • Melanie Solnik
  • Michelle Van Brunschot
Articles

Abstract

The present research examined the relation between dimensions of perfectionism and self-appraised problem-solving behaviors and attitudes. Specifically, in two separate studies, we tested the hypothesis that socially prescribed perfectionism (i.e., the perception that others demand perfection from the self) is associated with poorer social problem-solving ability. In addition, measures of psychological adjustment were included in Study 2 so that we could (1) examine whether socially prescribed perfectionism and poorer problem-solving ability were still associated after removing variance associated with psychological distress; and (2) compare depression and anxiety in terms of their respective associations with social problem-solving ability. Correlational analyses of the data from both studies confirmed that socially prescribed perfectionism is associated with more negative self-perceptions of problem-solving orientation, and that the link between socially prescribed perfectionism and negative perceptions of problem-solving orientation remains present after removing variance due to levels of negative affectivity. Both depression and anxiety were associated with a negative problem-solving orientation, but only depression was associated with more negative appraisals of actual problem-solving skills. The results suggest that perceived exposure to imposed standards of perfection undermines the problem-solving process and that individuals with high levels of socially prescribed perfectionism are particularly in need of counseling interventions designed to provide a more positive problem-solving orientation.

Keywords

Correlational Analysis Psychological Distress Negative Affectivity Separate Study Psychological Adjustment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bandura, A. (1986).Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Barnes, G. E., & Prosen, H. (1985). Parental death and depression.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 64–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Epstein, N., Brown, G., & Steer, R. A. (1989). An inventory for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 893–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blankstein, K. R., Flett, G. L., & Batten, I. (1989). Test anxiety and problemsolving self-appraisals of college students.Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 4, 531–540.Google Scholar
  5. Blatt, S. J. (1995). The destructiveness of perfectionism: Implications for the treatment of depression.American Psychologist, 50, 1003–1020.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonner, R. L., & Rich, A. (1988). Negative life stress, social problem solving self appraisal, and hopelessness: Implications for suicide research.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 12, 549–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borden, J. W., Peterson, D. R., & Jackson, E. A. (1991). The Beck Anxiety Inventory in nonclinical samples: Initial psychometric properties.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 13, 345–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brandstadter, J., & Renner, G. (1990). Tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment: Explication and age-related analysis of assimilation and accommodation strategies of coping.Psychology and Aging, 5, 58–67.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Burns, D. D. (1983). The spouse who is a perfectionist.Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 17, 219–230.Google Scholar
  10. Butler, L., & Meichenbaum, D. (1981). The assessment of interpersonal problem-solving skills. In P. C. Kendall & S. D. Hollon (Eds.),Assessment strategies for cognitive-behavioral interventions (pp. 197–225). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Clark, D. A., Beck, A. T., & Stewart, B. (1990). Cognitive specificity and positive-negative affectivity: Complementary or contradictory views on anxiety and depression?Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 148–155.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, D. A., Steer, R. A., & Beck, A. T. (1994). Common and specific dimensions of self-reported anxiety and depression: Implications for the cognitive and tripartite models.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 645–654.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985).Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  14. Diener, C. I., & Dweck, C. S. (1978). An analysis of learned helplessness: Continuous changes in performance, strategy, and achievement cognitions following failure.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 451–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, C. I., & Dweck, C. S. (1980). An analysis of learned helplesness: II. The processing of success.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 940–952.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dixon, W. A., Heppner, P. P., & Anderson, W. P. (1991). Problem-solving appraisal, stress, hopelessness, and suicide ideation in a college student population.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 51–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality.Psychological Review, 95, 256–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. D'Zurilla, T. J. (1986).Problem-solving therapy: A social competence approach to clinical intervention. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. D'Zurilla, T. J., & Goldfried, M. R. (1971). Problem solving and behavior modification.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 78, 107–126.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. D'Zurilla, T. J. & Nezu, A. (1982). Social problem-solving in adults. In P. C. Kendall (Ed.),Advances in cognitive-behavioral research and therapy (Vol. 1, pp. 201–274). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  21. D'Zurilla, T. J. & Nezu, A. M. (1990). Development and preliminary evaluation of the Social Problem-Solving Inventory (SPSI).Psychological Assessment, 2, 156–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. D'Zurilla, T. J., & Sheedy, C. F. (1991). Relation between social problem-solving ability and subsequent level of psychological stress in college students.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 841–846.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. D'Zurilla, T. J., & Sheedy, C. F. (1992). The relation between social problemsolving ability and subsequent level of academic competence in college students.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 589–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ellis, A. E. (1962).Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. Secaucas, NJ: The Citadel Press.Google Scholar
  25. Feldman, L. A. (1993). Distinguishing depression and anxiety in self-report: Evidence from confirmatory factor analysis on nonclinical and clinical samples.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 631–638.Google Scholar
  26. Fisher, S., & Hood, B. (1987). The stress of the transition to university: A longitudinal study of psychological disturbance, absent mindedness and vulnerability to depression.British Journal of Psychology, 78, 425–441.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Dynin, C. (1994). Dimensions of perfectionism and Type A behaviour.Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 477–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Koledin, S. (1991). Dimensions of perfectionism and irrational thinking.Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 9, 185–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Mosher, S. W. (1995). Perfectionism, life events, and depressive symptoms: A test of a diathesis-stress model.Current Psychology, 14, 112–137.Google Scholar
  30. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Endler, N. S., & Tassone, C. (1994). Perfectionism and components of state and trait anxiety.Current Psychology, 13, 326–350.Google Scholar
  31. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., & Hallett, J. (1995). Perfectionism and job stress in teachers.Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 11, 32–42.Google Scholar
  32. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Whelan, T., & Martin, T. R. (1993, November).Dimensions of perfectionism, self-control, and depression in alcoholics. Paper presented at the 27th annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT), Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
  33. Flett, G. L., Pliner, P., & Blankstein, K. R. (1989). Depression and components of attributional complexity.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 757–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Flett, G. L., Sawatzky, D. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (1995). Dimensions of perfectionism and goal commitment: A further comparison of two perfectionism measures.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 17, 111–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Frost, R. O., Heimberg, R., Holt, C., Mattia, J., & Neubauer, A. (1993). A comparison of two measures of perfectionism.Personality and Individual Differences, 14, 119–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Frost, R., & Marten, P. (1990). Perfectionism and evaluative threat.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 559–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Frost, R. O., Marten, P. A., Lahart, C., & Rosenblate, R. (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 449–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Fydrich, T., Dowdall, D., & Chambless, D. L. (1992). Reliability and validity of the Beck Anxiety Inventory.Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 6, 55–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Goldfried, M. R., & D'Zurilla, T. J. (1969). A behavioral-analytic method for assessing competence. In C. D. Spielberger (Ed.),Current topics in community and clinical psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 151–196). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. Goldfried, M. R., & Goldfried, A. P. (1975). Cognitive change methods. In F. H. Kanfer & A. P. Goldstein (Eds.),Helping people change (pp. 89–116). New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  41. Gotlib, I. H. (1984). Depression and general psychopathology in university students.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 19–30.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Heppner, P. P. (1978). A review of the problem-solving literature and its relationship to the counseling process.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 25, 366–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Heppner, P. P., & Anderson, W. P. (1985). The relationship between problem-solving self-appraisal and psychological adjustment.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 9, 415–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Heppner, P. P., Baumgardner, A. H., & Jackson, S. A. (1985). Problem-solving, self-appraisal, depression, and attributional style: Are they related?Cognitive Therapy and Research, 9, 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Heppner, P. P., Kampa, M., & Brunning, L. (1987). The relationship between problem-solving self-appraisal and indices of physical and psychological health.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hewitt, P. L., & Dyck, D. G. (1986). Perfectionism, stress, and vulnerability to depression.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 10, 137–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1990). Perfectionism and depression: A multidimensional analysis.Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5, 423–428.Google Scholar
  48. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1991a). Dimensions of perfectionism in unipolar depression.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 98–101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1991b). Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: Conceptualization, assessment, and association with psychopathology.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 456–470.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1993a). Dimensions of perfectionism, daily stress, and depression: A test of the specific vulnerability hypothesis.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 58–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1993b). Perfectionism and goal orientation in impulsive and suicidal behavior. In W. McCown, M. Shure, & J. Johnson (Eds.),The impulsive client: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 247–263.) Arlington, VA: American Psychological Association Press.Google Scholar
  52. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1996). Personality traits and the coping process. In M. Zeidner and N. S. Endler (Eds.),Handbook of coping (pp. 410–433). London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  53. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Ediger, E. (in press). Perfectionism and depression: Longitudinal assessment of a specific vulnerability hypothesis.Journal of Abnormal Psychology.Google Scholar
  54. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Endler, N. S. (1995). Perfectionism, coping, and depression symptomatology in a clinical sample.Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2, 47–58.Google Scholar
  55. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Turnbull-Donovan, W. (1992). Perfectionism and suicidal potential.British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 31, 181–190.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., Turnbull-Donovan, W., & Mikail, S. (1991). The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale: Reliability, validity, and psychometric properties in psychiatric samples.Psychological Assessment, 3, 464–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Turnbull, W. (1992). Perfectionism and Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) indices of personality disorder.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 14, 323–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Weber, C. (1994). Perfectionism, hopelessness, and suicide ideation.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18, 439–460.Google Scholar
  59. Hewitt, P. L., Newton, J., Flett, G. L., & Calland, L. (in press). Suicide ideation in adolescent psychiatric patients: Perfectionism and hopelessness.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.Google Scholar
  60. Hewitt, P. L., & Norton, G. R. (1993). The Beck Anxiety Inventory: A psychometric analysis.Psychological Assessment, 5, 408–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Heyman, G. D., Dweck, C. S., & Cain, K. M. (1992). Young children's vulnerability to self-blame and helplessness: Relationship to beliefs about goodness.Child Development, 63, 401–415.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Ingram, R. E., Kendall, P. C., Smith, T. W., Donnell, C., & Ronan, K. (1987). Cognitive specificity in emotional distress.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 734–742.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Larson, L. M., Piersel, W. C., Imao, R. A. K., & Allen, S. J. (1990). Significant predictors of problem-solving appraisal.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37, 482–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mor, S., Day, H. I., Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (1995). Perfectionism, control, and components of performance anxiety in professional performers.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 19, 207–225.Google Scholar
  65. Nezu, A. M. (1985). Differences in psychological distress between effective and ineffective problem solvers.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 135–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Nezu, A. M. (1986). Cognitive appraisal of problem solving effectiveness: Relation to depression and depressive symptoms.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 43–48.Google Scholar
  67. Nezu, A. M. (1987). A problem-solving formulation of depression: Literature review and proposal of a pluralistic model.Clinical Psychology Review, 7, 121–144.Google Scholar
  68. Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & Nezu, V. A. (1986). Depression, general distress, and causal attributions among university students.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 184–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & Perri, M. G. (1989).Problem-solving therapy for depression: Theory, research, and clinical guidelines. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  70. Nezu, A. M., & Ronan, G. F. (1985). Life stress, current problems, problem solving, and depressive symptoms: An integrative model.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 693–697.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Pacht, A. (1984). Reflections on perfection.American Psychologist, 39, 386–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Priester, M. J., & Clum, G. A. (1993). Perceived problem-solving ability as a predictor of depression, hopelessness, and suicide ideation in a college population.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 40, 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Radloff, L. S. (1977). A self-report depression scale for research in the general population.Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.Google Scholar
  74. Richard, B. A., & Dodge, R. A. (1982). Social maladjustment and problem-solving in school-aged children.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50, 226–233.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Rude, S. S. (1989). Dimensions of self-control in a sample of depressed women.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 13, 363–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Shaver, P., Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1985). Transition to college: Network changes, social skills, and loneliness. In S. Duck & D. Perlman (Eds.),Understanding personal relationships: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 193–219). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  77. Spielberger, C. D. (1983).Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  78. Spivack, G., Platt, J. J., & Shure, M. B. (1976).The problem-solving approach to adjustment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  79. Urbain, E. S., & Kendall, P. C. (1983). Review of social-cognitive problem-solving interventions with children.Psychological Bulletin, 88, 109–143.Google Scholar
  80. Vredenburg, K., Flett, G. L. & Krames, L. (1993). Analogue versus clinical depression: A critical re-appraisal.Psychological Bulletin, 113, 327–344.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Carey, G. (1988). Positive and negative affectivity and their relation to anxiety and depressive disorders.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 346–353.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. Watson, D., & Kendall, P. C. (1989). Understanding anxiety and depression: Their relation to negative and positive affective states. In P. C. Kendall & D. Watson (Eds.),Anxiety and depression: Distinctive and overlapping features (pp. 3–26). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  83. Weissman, M. M., Sholomskas, D., Pottenger, M. M., Prusoff, B. A., & Locke, B. Z. (1977). Assessing depressive symptoms in five psychiatric populations: A validation study.Journal of Epidemiology, 106, 203–214.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon L. Flett
    • 1
  • Paul L. Hewitt
    • 2
  • Kirk R. Blankstein
    • 3
  • Melanie Solnik
    • 1
  • Michelle Van Brunschot
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityNorth YorkCanada
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaCanada
  3. 3.Erindale CollegeUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of Western OntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations