Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

The Revised Almost Perfect Scale

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

The Revised Almost Perfect Scale

Article excerpt

This article describes the development of the Almost Perfect Scale--Revised (APS--R). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and data exploring the reliability and construct validity of the subscales are provided. The results support the existence of 3 subscales with adequate internal consistencies and promising relationships with other relevant measures.

The construct of perfectionism has recently been receiving increased attention in the psychological literature. For example, in a theoretical article titled "The Destructiveness of Perfectionism" in the American Psychologist, Blatt (1995) discussed the relationship among suicide, perfectionism, and what he termed "introjective or self-critical depression." More recently, Blatt, Zuroff, Quinlan, and Pilkonis (1996) and Blatt, Zuroff, Bondi, Sanislow, and Pilkonis (1998) presented additional analyses of data gathered in the National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program. These analyses indicated that perfectionism was negatively related to responsiveness to brief therapies for depression. Furthermore, a recent survey of a large number of college students who were in counseling found that more than 26% of the women and 21% of the men reported that perfectionism was "quite distressing or extremely distressing" to them (Research Consortium of Counseling and Psychologica l Services to Higher Education, 1995).

The aforementioned studies clearly suggest that perfectionism has important implications for counseling. However, the precise nature of these implications is uncertain because no clear definitions of perfectionism are provided. These studies are not unique in this regard. Although perfectionism is typically addressed as if it were a familiar personality characteristic or trait, and clients in counseling are often described as perfectionistic, no formally agreed-on definition of perfectionism exists within the psychological literature. Given this apparent need for a formal, professionally useful definition of perfectionism, it seems reasonable to investigate the meanings that are attached to this term by examining definitions of perfectionism that are in general use.

A sampling of dictionary definitions reveals that perfectionism is defined as "an extreme or excessive striving for perfection, as in one's work" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 1988, p. 873); "a predilection for setting extremely high standards and being displeased with anything less" (Webster's II New College Dictionary, 1995, p. 816); or, similarly, "a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 1993, p. 863). Perfection, in turn, is defined as "an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 1993, p. 863). It seems understandable, then, that when the term perfectionism is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994), extreme standards of behavior are emphasized. The first criterion for the diagnosis of obsessive--compulsive personality disorder refers to "perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her overly strict standards are not met)" (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 672).

The definitions quoted above assume that (a) having excessively high personal standards for performance or behavior is central to defining perfectionism and (b) having such standards is problematic, if not pathological. These assumptions also permeate the anecdotal literature on perfectionism (e.g., Hollender, 1965; Pacht, 1984) and, logically enough, have significantly influenced attempts to develop empirical measures of perfectionism. For example, Burns's (1980) Perfectionism Scale used items measuring high personal standards and was based on a previous scale that measured "a number of self-defeating attitudes commonly seen in people who suffer from clinical depression and anxiety" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.