The promises and pitfalls of perfectionistic behaviours in Australian adolescent girls

Year: 2001

Author: Hawkins, Colleen, Watt, Helen, Sinclair, Ken

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The first study provides empirical support for the existence of three ‘types’ of perfectionistic students. From a cluster analysis of scores on the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Frost et al., 1990) the first group is described as positive or healthy perfectionists, the second group as negative or unhealthy and a third group as neutral or non-perfectionistic. Participants are 409 adolescent girls from Years 7-11 in two private schools in Sydney of comparable upper middle-class socioeconomic status and predominantly English speaking background. The second study examines the relationship between scores on dimensions of perfectionism and goal orientations, levels of depression, anxiety and stress, class goal structure, and cultural dissonance between home and school. MANOVA analyses indicate statistically significant differences between the three types of perfectionistic students for depression, performance avoidance goal orientations, academic self-efficacy, academic self-handicapping, and cultural dissonance between home and school. The findings of these studies provide initial Australian data relevant to teachers and school counsellors concerned with preventing serious emotional difficulties associated with dysfunctional perfectionism.