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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Interpersonal dimensions of trait perfectionism, coping, and quality of intimate relationships Haring, Michelle Louise

Abstract

Perfectionism is a multidimensional trait, including both intra- and interpersonal dimensions. While many studies have linked perfectionism to a variety of intrapersonal problems, to date little work has addressed the interpersonal consequences of trait perfectionism. The present study examined the relationship between perfectionism, marital coping and marital functioning in a sample of 76 married or common-law couples. First, this study examined whether perfectionism was related to several indices of marital adjustment both for the self and for the partner. Second, the relationship between perfectionism and the types of coping strategies used in response to marital problems was explored. Next, the ability of perfectionism to predict marital coping and adjustment independent of its associations with depression and neuroticism was assessed. Finally, this study sought to clarify the how perfectionism is related to marital adjustment. With respect to this last question, two models of the relationship between perfectionism, coping and marital adjustment were tested. Based on Hewitt and Flett's (in press) conceptualization of the relationship between perfectionism and maladjustment, a model was tested in which negative coping efforts mediate the relationship between perfectionism and self and partner's marital adjustment. The second model tested was a moderational model in which perfectionism interacts with coping to produce marital difficulties. The results of this study suggest that one of the interpersonal dimensions of perfectionism, spouse-prescribed perfectionism, is strongly negatively associated with marital adjustment for both the self and the partner. This dimension also predicts the types of coping strategies used in response to marital difficulties. In addition, it was found that perfectionism predicted variance in marital functioning and marital coping above and beyond the effects of depression and neuroticism. While no evidence for a moderational model was found, the present study provided support for Hewitt and Flett's (in press) theoretical model. That is, the use of negative coping strategies mediated the relationship between spouse-prescribed perfectionism and poorer marital functioning for both the self and the partner. Overall, this study highlights the importance of perfectionism in the interpersonal domain.

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