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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perfectionism and the cognitive and affective experience of social exclusion Blasberg, Jonathan Shael


Perfectionism is a multidimensional personality variable linked to a variety of maladaptive consequences and developmentally rooted in early interpersonal attachments. This has been hypothesized to predispose perfectionistic individuals to more maladaptive outcomes in response to being socially excluded. The current project reviews extant literature on the Comprehensive Model of Perfectionism described by Paul Hewitt, Gordon Flett, and colleagues, its developmental antecedents, and a review of specific vulnerability, diathesis-stress and perfectionism social disconnection models that explain perfectionistic vulnerability to stress, including social exclusion. Hypotheses regarding a moderating effect of perfectionism on cognitive and affective reactions to social exclusion were generated based on the aforementioned models. Using two undergraduate student samples, we exposed participants to a laboratory-based social exclusion experience (Cyberball) under controlled circumstances and performed a comprehensive pre- and post-task assessment of their affective and cognitive experience using a combination of explicit and implicit measures. Results indicated that concern over mistakes, perfectionistic cognitions, perfectionistic self-promotion, and nondisplay of imperfection dimensions of perfectionism were the strongest moderators of the experience of social exclusion in that individuals high on these dimensions experienced amplified post-Cyberball shame, anger, rejection, and self-critical affect and increased negative self-related thoughts, and decreased interdependence. Nondisclosure of imperfection in contrast predicted reduced rejected affect in response to social inclusion. Results are discussed in the context of extant literature in perfectionism and social exclusion domains, and in light of diathesis-stress literature and the Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model, as well as the hypothesized interpersonal underpinnings of perfectionistic behaviour.

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