Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

A Clinical Investigation of Motivation to Change Standards and Cognitions about Failure in Perfectionism

  • Sarah J. Egan (a1), Jan P. Piek (a1), Murray J. Dyck (a2), Clare S. Rees (a1) and Martin S. Hagger (a1)...

Abstract

Background: Clinical perfectionism is a transdiagnostic process that has been found to maintain eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression. Cognitive behavioural models explaining the maintenance of clinical perfectionism emphasize the contribution of dichotomous thinking and resetting standards higher following both success and failure in meeting their goals. There has been a paucity of research examining the predictions of the models and motivation to change perfectionism. Motivation to change is important as individuals with clinical perfectionism often report many perceived benefits of their perfectionism; they are, therefore, likely to be ambivalent regarding changing perfectionism. Aims: The aim was to compare qualitative responses regarding questions about motivation to change standards and cognitions regarding failure to meet a personal standard in two contrasting groups with high and low negative perfectionism. Negative perfectionism refers to concern over not meeting personal standards. Method: A clinical group with a range of axis 1 diagnoses who were elevated on negative perfectionism were compared to a group of athletes who were low on negative perfectionism. Results: Results indicated that the clinical group perceived many negative consequences of their perfectionism. They also, however, reported numerous benefits and the majority stated that they would prefer not to change their perfectionism. The clinical group also reported dichotomous thinking and preferring to either keep standards the same or reset standards higher following failure, whilst the athlete group reported they would keep standards the same or set them lower. Conclusions: The findings support predictions of the cognitive behavioural model of clinical perfectionism.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Reprint requests to Sarah Egan, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. E-mail: s.egan@curtin.edu.au

References

Hide All
Abrahamson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P. and Teasdale, J. D. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 4974.
Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A. and Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck Depression Inventory Manual (2nd ed.). San Antonio: Harcourt Brace and Company.
Bieling, P. J., Summerfeldt, L. J., Israeli, A. L. and Antony, M. M. (2004). Perfectionism as an explanatory construct in comorbidity of axis I disorders. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 193201.
Denzin, N. D. and Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications.
Egan, S. J., Piek, J. P., Dyck, M. J. and Rees, C. S. (2007). The role of dichotomous thinking and rigidity in perfectionism. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, 18131822.
Egan, S. J., Wade, T. D. and Shafran, R. (2011). Perfectionism as a transdiagnostic process: a clinical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 203212.
First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., Williams, J. B. W. and Benjamin, L. (1994). Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders (SCID-II). Version 2.0. New York: Biometrics Research Department, New York State Psychiatric Institute.
First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M. and Williams, J. B. W. (1996). Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders – patient edition (SCID-I/P, Version 2.0). New York: Biometrics Research Department, New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Frost, R. O., Marten, P., Lahart, C. and Rosenblate, R. (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 449468.
Haase, A. M., Prapavessis, H. and Owens, R. G. (1999). Perfectionism and eating attitude in competitive rowers: moderating effects of body mass index, weight classification and gender. Psychology and Health, 14, 643657.
Haase, A. M., Prapavessis, H. and Owens, R. G. (2002). Perfectionism, social physique anxiety and disordered eating: a comparison of male and female athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 3, 209222.
Hagger, M. S. and Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2011). Never the twain shall meet? Quantitative psychological researchers’ perspectives on qualitative research. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 3, 266277.
Hewitt, P. L. and Flett, G. L. (1991). Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: conceptualization, assessment and association with psychopathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 456470.
Lundh, L. G. (2004). Perfectionism and acceptance. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 22, 255269.
Neumeister, K. L. (2004). Interpreting successes and failures: the influence of perfectionism on perspective. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27, 311335.
Rice, K. G., Bair, C. J., Castro, J. R., Cohen, B. N. and Hood, C. A. (2003). Meanings of perfectionism: a quantitative and qualitative analysis. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 17, 3958.
Riley, C. and Shafran, R. (2005). Clinical perfectionism: a preliminary qualitative analysis. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 33, 369374.
Shafran, R., Cooper, Z. and Fairburn, C. G. (2002). Clinical perfectionism: a cognitive behavioural analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40, 773791.
Shafran, R., Egan, S. and Wade, T. (2010). Overcoming Perfectionism: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques. London: Constable and Robinson.
Stoeber, J. and Otto, K. (2006). Positive conceptions of perfectionism: approaches, evidence, challenges. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 295319.
Terry-Short, L. A., Owens, R. G., Slade, P. D. and Dewey, M. E. (1995). Positive and negative perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 18, 663668.
Wilson, G. T. and Schlam, T. R. (2004). The transtheoretical model and motivational interviewing in the treatment of eating and weight disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 24, 361378.
Zanarini, M. C., Skodol, A. E., Bender, D., Dolan, R., Sanislow, C., Schaeffer, E., et al. (2000). The collaborative longitudinal personality disorders study: reliability of Axis I and II diagnoses. Journal of Personality Disorders, 14, 291299.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

A Clinical Investigation of Motivation to Change Standards and Cognitions about Failure in Perfectionism

  • Sarah J. Egan (a1), Jan P. Piek (a1), Murray J. Dyck (a2), Clare S. Rees (a1) and Martin S. Hagger (a1)...
Submit a response

Comments

No Comments have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *