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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Parenting, attachment, and perfectionism : a test of the Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model in children and adolescents Ko, Ariel Hoi Ching


Perfectionism is a multifaceted personality construct involving perfectionistic traits (i.e., demand for the self and/or others to be perfect), perfectionistic self-presentation (i.e., requirement of the self to appear perfect), and intrapersonal/self-relational perfectionism (i.e., automatic perfectionistic thoughts and self-recriminations). Perfectionism is a risk factor for multiple psychological and physical dysfunction across the lifespan and has been reported to be increasing over the past 30 years (Curran & Hill, 2017). Given the host of difficulties linked to perfectionism and the elevated levels of perfectionism among individuals, further research is needed to determine how perfectionism develops. Hewitt, Flett, and Mikail (2017) proposed a developmental framework of perfectionism as part of their Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model (PSDM). This model suggests that perfectionism stems from attachment insecurities rooted in asynchrony between parental behaviors and a child’s needs. The general goal of the study is to examine whether adverse parenting (i.e., authoritarian parenting, parental psychological control, and parental noninvolvement) and insecure attachment are relevant developmental factors in perfectionism. Specifically, we investigated the relationships among adverse parenting, insecure attachment, and perfectionism, as well as the mediating effect of insecure attachment on the relationship between adverse parenting and perfectionism. A total of 96 parent-child dyads with youth ranging from 8 to 15-years old completed self-report questionnaires on parenting, attachment, and perfectionism. Findings from this study suggest that adverse parenting behaviours and attachment insecurity are influential factors to various trait and self-presentational components of perfectionism. In particular, parental noninvolvement contributed to various trait and self-presentational perfectionism through insecure attachment. Study results provide further empirical support for Hewitt et al.’s (2017) developmental model of perfectionism and suggest the importance of parental noninvolvement and insecure attachment on the development of perfectionism in younger populations. Study findings also shed insight on treatment strategies for children and adolescents struggling with perfectionism.

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