Relationship Between Perfectionism and Emotional Symptoms in an Adolescent Sample

Danielle A. Einstein*, Peter F. Lovibond, Jonathan E. Gaston

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Final-year high school students completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism scale and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS) 10 weeks (n = 673) and again 10 days (n = 505) before a major set of examinations. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress were elevated on both test occasions, with more than 20% of the sample falling into the severe range. Self-oriented perfectionism was not strongly related to emotional symptoms. In contrast, socially prescribed perfectionism was positively related to depression and anxiety. Students whose parents were born overseas reported higher levels of socially prescribed perfectionism, and higher levels of depression and anxiety. These findings were interpreted within Higgins' (1987) self-discrepancy theory, which links high externally imposed standards to emotional distress. The results suggest that adolescents who perceive strong external pressure to excel academically are at risk of severe emotional symptoms under examination stress.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-93
    Number of pages5
    JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

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