Adaptive and Maladaptive Outcomes of Perfectionism and Changes After Mindfulness Training
Ph.D. (Clinical psychology)
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Considerable debate exists in the personality literature regarding the adaptiveness versus maladaptiveness of perfectionism. Study 1 (N = 240) involved a two-phase design to examine main and interactive effects of perfectionism dimensions predicting adaptive outcomes (i.e., well-being, achievement, motivation) and maladaptive outcomes (i.e., psychological distress, repetitive thought, procrastination) over a semester. The results largely supported the 2 × 2 model of perfectionism. Pure personal standards (PSP) predicted higher levels of many of the adaptive outcomes and lower levels of some of the maladaptive outcomes compared to no tendency towards perfectionism. Pure evaluative concerns (ECP) predicted lower levels of adaptive outcomes and higher levels of maladaptive outcomes than no tendency towards perfectionism. A mixed combination buffered both the adaptive benefits of high personal standards and the maladaptive effects of high evaluative concerns. Mediation models indicated that: (1) worry and rumination mediated pure ECP and negative affect, (2) self-regulation mediated pure ECP and procrastination, (3) mindfulness mediated pure PSP and positive affect, and (4) intrinsic motivation mediated pure PSP and goal achievement, while extrinsic motivation did not mediate this relationship. Study 2 used a randomized controlled trial to investigate if perfectionism’s adaptive and maladaptive outcomes are altered through mindfulness training. Although the mindfulness group (n = 23) and the control group (n = 25) did not change in adaptive outcomes, the control group increased in ECP and many maladaptive outcomes compared to the mindfulness group. Training in mindfulness, and particularly in observing and non-reactivity, may protect against increases in negative affect, rumination, stress, and procrastination among students.