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Effects of perceived maternal and adolescent perfectionism on adolescent depression


Recently, much attention has been drawn to understand when, where and why perfectionism may cause risk or resilience for one’s health and well-being. The aim of this study was twofold. Firstly, this study used an adolescent clinical sample to explore the bidirectional relationship between perceived maternal perfectionism and adolescent perfectionism in a cross-lagged model. The second objective was to examine how maternal and adolescent perfectionism were associated with later adolescent depression. 300 adolescents (46% males, 54% females) were recruited from counselling centres. Of the participants, 75% have depressive symptoms, while 25% have both anxiety and depressive symptoms. They reported their perfectionism and perceived maternal perfectionism at T1 and T2, and were asked to state their depression at T3. Several significant findings were obtained: (a) bidirectional links between perceived maternal perfectionism and adolescent perfectionism were found in two dimensions (i.e., rigid perfectionism and self-critical perfectionism), whereas the unidirectional relation was found in narcissistic perfectionism; (b) both perceived maternal and adolescent perfectionism displayed modest stability over the investigation period; (c) perceived maternal perfectionism and adolescent perfectionism at both T1 and T2 predicted later adolescent depression at T3, through either a direct or an indirect mechanism. This study yielded several practical implications. Mental and public health professionals may include mothers in adolescent depression interventions, and to direct mothers to modify their beliefs in striving for perfection, their demands on others, and their self-complacency. In addition, practitioners could address perfectionism issues during the counseling sessions, making treatment outcomes become more effective. School educators could yield cooperative learning activities in which adolescents and their parents could work together, promoting to build positive and constructive parent-adolescent interactions.

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The data are available on reasonable request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to their containing information that could compromise the privacy of research participants.


  1. The psychologists or psychiatrists used the Beck depression inventory II (BDI-II) to measure adolescent depression in counselling centres, but this study utilized one of subscales in the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21 (DASS-21) to assess adolescent depression. The mean scores of the BDI-II was 27.8 (SD = 2.32) in the first clinical evaluation.


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Financial support for this study was provided by a grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan. We thank the directors of counselling centres and participants for their great assistance.

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Correspondence to Pei-Chen Wu.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of human research ethics committee at National Cheng Kung University (No. 109–178). Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

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Wu, PC. Effects of perceived maternal and adolescent perfectionism on adolescent depression. Curr Psychol (2022).

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  • Maternal perfectionism
  • Adolescent perfectionism
  • Depression
  • Health and well-being