Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Hope as a Mediator and Moderator of Multidimensional Perfectionism and Depression in Middle School Students

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Hope as a Mediator and Moderator of Multidimensional Perfectionism and Depression in Middle School Students

Article excerpt

In recent years, researchers have gained increasing insight into the ways that perfectionism develops and manifests itself across the life span (Rice, Leever, Noggle, & Lapsley, 2007; Rice, Tucker, & Desmond, 2008; Vandiver & Worrell, 2002). The investigation of perfectionism in the context of human development has led to further lines of inquiry regarding the impact of this construct on the well-being of young people. Additionally, researchers have begun to study interactions between perfectionism and various well-being outcomes, as well as the mechanisms connecting them, such as hope (Stoeber & Rambow, 2007).

In its traditional conceptualization, perfectionism has been linked to negative emotions and a range of physical and emotional illnesses including depression (e.g., Argus & Thompson, 2008). However, more recent evidence suggests that perfectionism is multidimensional and complex, possessing positive aspects as well (see Stoeber & Otto, 2006, for a review). This mounting evidence has led researchers to investigate the idea that perfectionism could be valued as a multidimensional construct rather than universally pathological.

Hamachek (1978) was one of the first theorists to conceptualize perfectionism in a multidimensional way, theorizing that "normal" perfectionists hold high standards but are still able to experience pleasure and satisfaction despite falling short of goals. In contrast, "neurotic" perfectionists hold similarly high standards but feel they have failed when these standards are not perfectly met. Research has continued to build on this foundational idea that there are both healthy and unhealthy forms of perfectionism that can be differentiated in various ways (e.g., Gilman, Ashby, Sverko, Florell, & Varjas, 2005).

Most research to date has focused on perfectionism in adult populations. Thus far, only a limited number of studies have investigated how perfectionism manifests itself in adolescent populations, as well as the kinds of outcomes to which it is most commonly related for this age group. These studies suggest that more maladaptive forms of perfectionism are associated with negative outcomes in adolescents, including anxiety, depression, and oppositional behavior (e.g., Accordino, Accordino, & Slaney, 2000; McCreary, Joiner, Schmidt, & Ialongo, 2004). In contrast, researchers have found that more adaptive forms of perfectionism were related to higher grade point average, greater motivation, and higher mastery orientation (Accordino et al., 2000; Einstein, Lovibond, & Gaston, 2000; Nounopoulos, Ashby, & Gilman, 2006; Vandiver & Worrell, 2002).

In response to some of these findings, researchers have begun to identify which constructs might play a role in mediating or moderating the relationships between various types of perfectionism (adaptive vs. maladaptive) and well-being (e.g., Chang, Sanna, Chang, & Bodem, 2008; Dunkley, Sanislow, Grilo, & McGlashan, 2006). Hope is one construct that has gained considerable attention in the field of positive psychology and, more recently, in the study of perfectionism. Previously conceptualized as a"passive emotional phenomenon occurring only in the darkest moments" (Snyder, Feldman, Shorey, & Rand, 2002, p. 299), the construct of hope is being described increasingly as active and goal-oriented. Hope has more recently been identified as a primarily cognitive process, defined as "an overall perception that one's goals can be met" (Snyder et al., 1991, p. 570).

Consistent with this view of hope, it has been conceptualized as having three interrelated components: goals, pathways, and agency, all of which begin to develop in early childhood (Snyder, Feldman, et al., 2002). Goals serve as an anchor and function as a way to measure hope (Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997). Pathways are defined as an individual's perceived ability to identify and develop ways to achieve his or her goals (Snyder, 1994). …

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