Study says drive for perfectionism is detrimental to millennials' mental health

Louella Tangpuz, Trainee
PUBLISHED March 12, 2018 02:40 pm
Photo Courtesy of UGL_UIUC

(Inside Manila) The American Psychological Association published a research exploring the rise of perfectionism in today’s college students.


Published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, study authors Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill examined responses to the Multidimensional Perfection Scale. Over 40,000 American, British and Canadian college students, ages 18 to 25, took the test from 1989 to 2016.


It is a test used to assess generational changes in three types of perfectionism. Results showed increase in all three: a 10-percent increase in self-directed perfectionism (high personal expectations), a 33-percent increase in socially prescribed perfectionism (high standards dictated by the expectations of others) and a 16-percent increase in other-oriented perfectionism (high expectations of others).


The researchers think these tendencies could justify for the age group’s record-setting levels of mental issues, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, as reported by the World Health Organization.


Now, why is there an increase in perfectionism? Curran and Hill believe social media is partially at fault. However, it is untested. Other potentially influential factors suggested by the study include the rise of meritocracy, the transition to free-market capitalism and competitive individualism.


And if those are not enough, there’s also an increase in anxious and controlling parenting. According to the researchers, more than ever, today’s parents are looking to feed their children with contingent self-esteem. In turn, this can backfire and damage one’s mental health.

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