Perfectionism, Cognition, and Affect in Response to Performance Failure vs. Success

Sapir Academic College; York University; University of British Columbia
Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 01/2004; 22(4):297-324. DOI: 10.1023/B:JORE.0000047313.35872.5c

ABSTRACT The current paper describes the results of an experiment in which 200 students who varied in levels of trait perfectionism performed a laboratory task of varying levels of difficulty. Participants received either negative or positive performance feedback, independent of their actual level of performance. Analyses of pre-task and post-task measures of negative and positive affect showed that individuals with high self-oriented perfectionism experienced a general increase in negative affect after performing the task, and self-oriented perfectionists who received negative performance feedback were especially likely to report decreases in positive affect. Additional analyses showed that self-oriented perfectionists who received negative feedback responded with a cognitive orientation characterized by performance dissatisfaction, cognitive rumination, and irrational task importance. In contrast, there were relatively few significant differences involving other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism. Collectively, our findings support the view that self-oriented perfectionism is a vulnerability factor involving negative cognitive and affective reactions following failure experiences that reflect poorly on the self.

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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated if clinical perfectionism leads to resetting standards higher following both success and failure. A sample of 206 participants (74% female) completed an online experiment consisting of three sets of a nonverbal reasoning task and were asked before each set to select how many of the trials they aimed to get correct. Each set was followed by feedback regarding performance. Half of the participants received ‘difficult’ items for set 2, to allow investigation of failure effects. There was a significant relationship between clinical perfectionism and the standards that were set for the first set; however, there was no relationship with standard setting following success or failure. Instead, previous actual success or failure was the best predictor of goal setting. Consequently, clinical perfectionism was associated with setting higher standards in general, but not resetting standards higher following success or failure. Findings suggest that while clinical perfectionism plays a role in standard setting prior to performance, following performance actual success or failure becomes the best indicator. The implications of these findings for the cognitive behavioural model of clinical perfectionism are discussed.
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    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the role of standard setting by examining the differences in cognitive, affective, and behavioural responses to completing a task for adaptive and maladaptive perfectionists, and the impact of manipulating the expected standards of a task on the evaluation of performance standards. Groups of adaptive, maladaptive, and non-perfectionist participants completed a 15-min anagram task. Levels of positive and negative mood, task anxiety, self-efficacy, and threat appraisals were assessed. Results showed that conditions which involved a high expected standard of performance (i.e., high evaluative threat) were detrimental for maladaptive perfectionists as demonstrated in their higher levels of emotional distress, greater endorsement in dysfunctional thinking, and lower levels of persistence on insolvable anagrams, while adaptive perfectionists and non-perfectionists showed no significant differences in patterns of responding, irrespective of the expected standard. However, adaptive perfectionists were significantly more persistent on insolvable anagrams when under conditions of high evaluative threat. These findings provide support to existing theories of perfectionism and are discussed in terms of the way that the setting and attaining of standards for a task may play across adaptive and maladaptive dimensions of perfectionism. Both clinical implications of the present findings and directions for future research are also explored.
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    ABSTRACT: Perfectionists have shown increased negative affect after failure compared to nonperfectionists. However, little is known about how perfectionists react to repeated failure. This study investigated the effects of two forms of perfectionism—self-oriented perfectionism and socially prescribed perfectionism—on 100 university students’ reactions to repeated failure (versus repeated success) examining three negative emotions: anxiety, depression, and anger. Results showed that socially prescribed perfectionism predicted increased anxiety, depression, and anger after initial failure and further increased anger after repeated failure. In contrast, self-oriented perfectionism predicted increased anxiety, but only after repeated failure. The findings suggest that both self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism are vulnerability factors predisposing individuals to react with increased negative affect after repeated failure.
    Journal of Individual Differences 06/2014; 35(2):87-94. · 0.83 Impact Factor

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