Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Relative Stability of Dimensions of Perfectionism in Depression

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Relative Stability of Dimensions of Perfectionism in Depression

Article excerpt


We investigated the degree of absolute change, affective state dependence, and relative trait stability of several dimensions of perfectionism assessed by two popular, multidimensional measures. The study sample was 105 adult outpatients from a university hospital mood disorders program who met diagnostic criteria for major depressive episode at Time 1 and did not meet criteria for major depressive episode one year later (Time 2). Mean total scores on the Beck Depression Inventory decreased by almost 50% (from 28 to 15). Absolute change on perfectionism indices was smaller but significant for some maladaptive dimensions. Correlational, regression, and path analyses all indicated the presence of affective state dependence for several maladaptive dimensions of perfectionism (e.g., concern over mistakes, socially prescribed perfectionism). However, in all cases strong evidence was also found for the enduring trait stability of these dimensions. The results support a state-trait conceptualization of maladaptive perfectionism dimensions, which denotes stable individual difference variables that are elevated in the depressive state. Adaptive aspects of perfectionism showed little or no evidence of affective state dependence, consistent with findings from other research that suggest these dimensions (e.g., self-oriented perfectionism) only convey maladaptive or vulnerability effects in their interaction with the presence of negative life events.


Nous avons examine le degre de variation absolue, la dependance emotive chronique et la stabilite des traits psychologiques de plusieurs dimensions du perfectionnisme, tel qu'evalues par deux mesures multidimensionnelles repandues. L'echantillon de l'etude etait compose de 105 malades externes adultes, qui participaient a un programme de trouble de l'humeur offert par un hopital universitaire; dans la premiere partie de l'etude (temps 1), ceux-ci repondaient aux criteres diagnostiques d'un episode depressif majeur; dans la deuxieme partie de l'etude (temps 2), qui a eu lieu un an plus tard, les participants ne repondaient pas aux criteres diagnostiques d'un episode depressif majeur. Le score total moyen a l'inventaire de depression de Beck diminuait de pres de 50 % (de 28 a 15). La variation absolue relativement aux indices de perfectionnisme etait plus faible, mais significative, dans le cas de certaines dimensions de l'inadaptation. Les analyses de correlation, de regression et les analyses causales ont toutes indique la presence d'une dependance emotive chronique dans le cas des dimensions d'inadaptation du perfectionnisme (p. ex., crainte de faire des erreurs, perfectionnisme encourage socialement). Cependant, dans tous les cas, plusieurs elements nous ont permis de confirmer le trait psychologique constant de ces dimensions. Les resultats vont dans le sens d'une conceptualisation chronique et reactionnelle des dimensions du perfectionnisme mesadapte, qui denoterait des variables stables quant aux differences individuelles predominantes dans la depression chronique. Les aspects adaptatifs du perfectionnisme ont montre peu ou pas du tout la presence de la dependance emotive chronique, ce qui confirme les conclusions tirees par d'autres etudes qui suggerent que ces dimensions (p. ex., le perfectionnisme axe sur soi) conduisent a des effets d'inadaptation ou de vulnerabilite que lorsqu'elles sont en presence d'evenements negatifs.

Potentially maladaptive effects of perfectionism on psychological functioning, particularly depression, have been recognized for many years in psychological writings (e.g., Adler, 1956; Beck, 1967). In recent years, there has been considerable growth on the topic of perfectionism in the personality literature, owing in large part to the conceptualization of perfectionism as a multidimensional construct, and the development of reliable and valid instruments to measure various aspects of perfectionism.

Research to date on the role of perfectionism as a psychological vulnerability in predicting increases in emotional distress has been generally supportive. …

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