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Perfectionism and positive and negative outcomes : can achievement motivation and conscientiousness account for "adaptive" perfectionism? Blasberg, Jonathan Shael


We explored the assertion some have made that perfectionism can be adaptive (see J. Stoeber & K. Otto, 2006). Others have considered that what has been called adaptive perfectionism resembles a combination of achievement motivation and conscientiousness (P. L. Hewitt & G. L. Flett, 2008; T. Greenspon, 2000) but this has yet to be tested empirically. In a sample of 273 university students we found that three previously used operationalizations of “adaptive” perfectionism failed to correlate positively with self-esteem or life satisfaction. “Adaptive” perfectionism did correlate with positive affect, but when achievement motivation and conscientiousness were covaried the relationship ceased to be significant. “Adaptive” perfectionism also correlated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Because some have conceptualized “adaptive” perfectionism as a interaction between high standard setting and low ideal-actual performance discrepancy (K. G. Rice & J. S. Ashby, 2007), we used a regression analysis to test for this interaction and found it did not significantly predict positive affect, life satisfaction and self-esteem. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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