Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

The Reliability and Validity of Scores on the Almost Perfect Scale-Revised with Academically Talented Middle School Students

Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

The Reliability and Validity of Scores on the Almost Perfect Scale-Revised with Academically Talented Middle School Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

The psychometric properties of the Almost Perfect Scale-Revised (APS-R, Slaney, Mobley, Rice, Trippi, & Ashby, 1999) scores were examined in this study. The APS-R consists of three subscales measuring adaptive (high standards, order) and ma/adaptive (discrepancy) perfectionism. participants consisted of342 academically talented middle school students from an academic summer school Reliability estimates of APS-R subscale scores were in the moderate to high range. The three subscales emerged on exploratory factor analyses; however, confirmatory analyses indicated that the goodness-of-fit indices were just below the criteria for acceptability. The best fit was found for the Slaney et al.'s three-factor model. Correlations between APS-R subscales and grade-point average, an organization variable, and future goal completion provided convergent and divergent validity support for the three scores. The authors concluded that the validation of another perfectionism subscale in an academically talented sample prepares the field for longitudinal studies of perfectionism.

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Although perfectionism and similar constructs have been discussed by personality theorists for some time (e.g., Adler, 1964; Murray, 1938), perfectionism became a focus of empirical study in the last decade with the development of multidimensional scales to measure perfectionism (Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990; Hewitt & Flett, 1991; Slaney & Johnson, 1992). Although "striving for perfection" was recognized as a potentially healthy activity (Adler; Maslow, 1970), the label "perfectionistic" had negative connotations (Parker & Adkins, 1995), and much of the research on perfectionism has focused on the negative aspects (e.g., Ashby, Kottman, & Schoen, 1998; Ashby, Mangine, & Slaney, 1995; Blatt, 1995; Hewitt, Flett, Turnbull-Donovan, & Mikail, 1991; Johnson & Slaney, 1996; Kline & Short, 1991a, 1991b). Slaney, Mobley, Rice, Trippi, and Ashby (1999) indicated that dictionary definitions of perfectionism and perfection all stressed "extreme standards of behavior" (p. 4) and concluded that it is not surp rising that, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSMIV), perfectionism is associated with a personality disorder. One of the earliest measures of perfectionism, the Burns Perfectionism Scale (Burns, 1980), was a unidimensional measure that focused on perfectionism as a negative or unhealthy attribute.

Parker and Adkins (1995) pointed out that, although perfectionism is often defined negatively, the valence of the construct is dependent on the way in which the definition is framed. For example, "If a perfectionistic child [were] described with labels such as persevering, high achiever, or exhibits high standards [italics in original], the impression of the same child engaged in identical behaviors would be more positive." In other words, "striving for excellence is unhealthy [only] when the striving is unrealistically high" (Parker and Adkins, p. 173). The focus on high standards provides a meeting place for the study of perfectionism and research on gifted and talented individuals. Goals that are unrealistic or impossible for some may be quite normal or optimally challenging for individuals with above-average abilities.

Whereas Burns' (1980) scale may have been useful for studying perfectionism as a negative trait, the development of multidimensional perfectionism scales in the early 1990s allowed researchers to measure both positive and negative aspects of perfectionism and led to a greater focus on perfectionism research with gifted and talented populations (e.g., Parker & Mills, 1996; Parker & Stumpf, 1995). In fact, Parker and Adkins (1995) articulated a set of research questions for the study of perfectionism in gifted and talented groups, including "are there different types of perfectionism, and if so, are some healthy and others unhealthy? …

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