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A Meta-Analysis of Perfectionism and Academic Achievement

Abstract

Over the past two decades, many studies have examined the relationship between perfectionism and academic achievement. However, these studies have yet to be systematically collated and meta-analysed. The purpose of the present study was to do so. A literature search returned 37 studies (N = 8901) and 156 effect sizes. Random-effects meta-analyses indicated that perfectionistic strivings showed a significant small to medium positive relationship with academic achievement (r+ = .24), whereas perfectionistic concerns showed a significant small negative relationship with academic achievement (r+ = − .08). One moderator of these relationships was the instrument that was used to measure perfectionism. This was particularly the case for perfectionistic concerns. The findings suggest that the relationship between perfectionism and academic achievement is complex with perfectionistic strivings potentially aiding and perfectionistic concerns potentially hindering students’ academic achievement.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    See Stoeber and Rambow (2007) for details of how this scale was contextualised for use in education.

  2. 2.

    For a discussion of partialling in relation to perfectionism, see Stoeber and Gaudreau (2017), in particular, Table 2, p. 382.

  3. 3.

    Analyses were also conducted with mean imputation of the overlap (using the meta-analytic effect size). Effect sizes were not significantly different. Please see the Electronic Supplementary Material for the findings of these analyses.

  4. 4.

    Age, the measure of academic achievement, and whether achievement was measured objectively or via self-report were also tested as moderating factors, the findings of which were non-significant. These findings can be found in the Electronic Supplementary Material.

  5. 5.

    Note, however, that this study utilised a cross-lagged panel model, the efficacy of which has been the subject of recent debate (e.g. Hamaker et al. 2015).

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References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the meta-analysis

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Madigan, D.J. A Meta-Analysis of Perfectionism and Academic Achievement. Educ Psychol Rev 31, 967–989 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-019-09484-2

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Keywords

  • Perfectionistic strivings
  • Perfectionistic concerns
  • Performance
  • Education
  • School
  • College
  • University