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Perfectionism and social desirability: Students report increased perfectionism to create a positive impression

Authors
Journal
Personality and Individual Differences
0191-8869
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
55
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.04.023
Keywords
  • Positive Striving Perfectionism
  • Maladaptive Evaluation Concerns Perfectionism
  • Impression Management
  • Self-Enhancement
  • Self-Depreciation
Disciplines
  • Education

Abstract

Abstract Because previous studies examining correlations between perfectionism and social desirability produced inconclusive findings, this study used an experimental approach examining the perceived social desirability of perfectionism. 117 university students were randomly assigned to three conditions (fake-good, standard, and fake-bad instructions) and then completed measures of self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism. Results showed that all three forms of perfectionism were perceived as socially desirable. Self-oriented perfectionism showed a strong linear trend across the conditions: Students reported significantly higher self-oriented perfectionism in the fake-good condition, and significantly lower self-oriented perfectionism in the fake-bad condition compared to standard instructions. Other-oriented perfectionism showed the same linear trend, albeit weaker, and only fake-good and fake-bad conditions differed significantly. Socially prescribed perfectionism too showed a significant linear trend: Students reported higher levels in the fake-good condition compared to standard instructions and fake-bad condition, with no significant difference between the latter conditions. The findings indicate that, in educational settings, students perceive perfectionism—including maladaptive forms such as socially prescribed perfectionism—as socially desirable.

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