The relationship between perfectionism and stress is well-established. Recent research has focused on identifying the mediators of this link. Starting from a multidimensional perspective on perfectionism, we investigated the role of self-control and found it to be a mediator between perfectionism and stress in a sample of university freshmen. Further, perfectionistic concerns (i.e., discrepancy; Slaney et al. 2001) were positively correlated with stress, whereas perfectionistic strivings (i.e., high standards; Slaney et al. 2001) were negatively correlated with stress. Practical implications regarding overcoming maladaptive perfectionism are discussed.
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As one can argue that the approach to assessing mediation by Baron and Kenny (1986) is rather dated and has some shortcomings (e.g., it underestimates mediation effects, ignores measurement error etc.), we also analyzed our data again by utilizing a bootstrapping method (1,000 samples, confidence interval 95 %). These additional analyses supported our findings as they also revealed a negative and significant link between high standards and stress (β = −.22, t = 2.68, p < .01) and a significant positive link between discrepancy and stress (β = .38, t = 5.13, p < .001). When controlling for self-control, the link between high standards and stress was completely dissolved (β = −.14, t = 1.63, p = .10), whereas the positive link between discrepancy and stress was reduced but still remained significant (β = .32, t = 4.10, p < .001). Moreover, self-control was negatively related to stress (β = −.22, t = 2.73, p < .01) even when we controlled for high standards and discrepancy. As bootstrapping is especially useful for testing mediation effects in small samples, this additional analysis demonstrated that our results reported in the main manuscript were quite robust.
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Achtziger, A., Bayer, U.C. Self-control mediates the link between perfectionism and stress. Motiv Emot 37, 413–423 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-012-9321-6