Investigating perfectionism using a mixed method approach
: personal experiences, evaluations, and the relationship of the FMPS, APS-R and PSPS to the big five personality dimensions

  • Alison Kerr

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Personal experiences and evaluations of perfectionism, and the relationship between perfectionism, personality, laterality, and gender were investigated using a mixed method approach. Study 1 explored the relationship between two measurements of multidimensional perfectionism, the FMPS and the APS-R, and a measurement of self-presentational perfectionism, the PSPS. Study 1 also examined the relationships between perfectionism, the Big Five dimensions of personality (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness) and handedness strength and direction. A total of 192 participants took part. Correlations found between the FMPS, APS-R and PSPS suggest they are measuring from an underlying construct of perfectionism. Higher multidimensional perfectionism correlated to higher self-presentational perfectionism, suggesting perfectionism is relevant within multiple domains. Higher scores of perfectionism were predicted by higher scores of conscientiousness and lower scores of emotional stability (higher neuroticism) in both males and females. These personality dispositions may mean that individuals are more prone to developing perfectionism. In females, higher perfectionism was also predicted by lower agreeableness, suggesting that a lower tendency to be agreeable may extend to a lower acceptance of errors in relation to perfectionism. In females, lower extraversion also predicted higher self-presentational perfectionism, suggesting introverted females may be more concerned with presenting an image of perfection to others. In males, higher perfectionism was predicted by stronger left-handedness (measured by the APS-R), suggesting an influence of laterality. Results are discussed in relation to the mediating role of the behavioural inhibition system (BIS). One-hundred and eighty-five of these participants also completed six open-ended questions (Study 2) exploring personal experiences and evaluations of perfectionism. A further 13 participants took part in face-to-face interviews (Study 4). The results support a multidimensional form of perfectionism. Self-defined perfectionists viewed their perfectionism positively despite expressing a desire to eliminate their maladaptive tendencies, such as high self-criticism and disregarding success. The development of perfectionism was reported to be influenced by parents and the demands of academia. Together studies 1, 2 and 4 suggest a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors in the development of perfectionism. A follow-up study (3) with 70 participants explored self-reported definitions of perfectionism. The aspects of high standards, obsessionality, and the intolerance of errors or flaws were emphasised.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLynn Wright (Supervisor) & Scott Hardie (Supervisor)

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