• Inese Jokste Rīga Stradiņš University, Latvian Prison Administration



adaptive perfectionism, literature review, maladaptive perfectionism, negative perfectionism, pathological perfectionism, positive perfectionism, resource


The main trait differing perfectionists from other individuals is high standards, which is the unifying feature in all models. No matter how well the theories and models of perfectionism are developed, there has always been disagreement about the nature of perfectionism – is it 'The Good, the Bad or the Ugly?' The paper aims to review the studies focused on the mechanisms behind perfectionistic representation, its threats to psychological wellbeing, caused by its pathological side, and look into perfectionism as a possible resource for personal growth and achievement. In the first section of the paper, the aetiology of perfectionism is viewed to see if the foundations add to the type of perfectionism formed. In the second section, models of perfectionism are discussed to see their ability to distinguish between adaptive and maladaptive perfections. Finally, in the third section, perfectionism's positive and negative sides are discussed to understand when perfectionism becomes pathological and when it can be viewed as a resource. In the research of perfectionism, the quantitative approach is mostly used. However, the literature review provides the possibility to have an overview of current knowledge on the nature of perfectionism and to identify gaps in the existing research. The results show that although perfectionism may be viewed both as a positive and negative trait, its negative consequences prevail over its possible positive outcomes. Complex research involving several perfectionism measurements is needed to understand the impact of different combinations of perfectionism types on positive and negative outcomes. The findings of the literature review will serve as the theoretical background for studying perfectionism, its pathological traits, and its possible contribution to achievement.

Author Biography

  • Inese Jokste, Rīga Stradiņš University, Latvian Prison Administration
    Riga stradins univeristy, Psycholog laboratory, scientific assistantLatvian Prison administration, leading researcher


Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, H. L. Ansbacher & R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York, NY: Harper Torchbooks.

Cruce, S. E., Pashak, T. J., Handal, P. J., Munz, D. C., & Gfeller, J. D. (2012). Conscientious Perfectionism, Self-Evaluative Perfectionism, and the Five-Factor Model of personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(3), 268–273.

Curran, T., & Hill, A. P. (2019). Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin, 145(4), 410–429.

Damian, L.E., Stoeber, J., Negru, O., & Baban, A. (2013). On the development of perfectionism in adolescence: Perceived parental expectations predict longitudinal increases in socially prescribed perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(6), 688-693.

Damian, E., Stoeber, J., Negru, O., & Baban, A. (2014a). Perfectionism and achievement goal orientation in adolescent school students. Psychology in the Schools, 51(9), 960-971. 10.1002/pits.21794

Damian, E., Stoeber, J., Negru, O., & Baban, A. (2014b). Positive and negative affect in adolescents: An investigation of the 2 × 2 model of perfectionism. Cognition, Brain, Behavior. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 18(1), 1-16.

Dunkley, D. M., Zuroff, D. C., & Blankstein, K. R. (2003). Self-critical perfectionism and daily affect: Dispositional and situational influences on stress and coping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 234–252.

Egan, S. J., Wade, T. D., & Shafran, R. (2011). Perfectionism as a transdiagnostic process: A clinical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 203–212.

Enns, M. W., Cox, B. J., & Clara, I. (2002). Adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism: Developmental origins and association with depression proneness. Personality and Individual Differences, 33(6), 921–935.

Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Oliver, J. M., & Macdonald, S. (2002). Perfectionism in children and their parents: A developmental analysis. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 89-132). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Flett, G. L., Coulter, L.M., Hewitt, P. L., & Nepon, T. (2011). Perfectionism, rumination, worry, and depressive symptoms in early adolescents. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 26(3), 159–176.

Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Gray, L. (1998). Psychological distress and the frequency of perfectionistic thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(5), 1363-1381.

Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2002). Perfectionism and maladjustment: An overview of theoretical, definitional, and treatment issues. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (p. 5–31). American Psychological Association.

Frost, R. O., Marten, P., Lahart, C., & Rosenblate, R. (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14(5), 449–468.

Frost, R. O., Heimberg, R. G., Holt, C. S., Mattia, J. I., & Neubauer, A. L. (1993). A comparison of two measures of perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 14(1), 119–126.

Gabbard, G. O. (2004). Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A basic text. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Garratt-Reed, D., Howell, J., Hayes, L. & Boyes, M. (2018). Is perfectionism associated with academic burnout through repetitive negative thinking? PeerJ, 6.

Gilman, R., & Ashby, J. S. (2003). A first study of perfectionism and multidimensional life satisfaction among adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 23(2), 218–235.

Gaudreau, P., & Thompson, A., (2010). Testing a 2 × 2 model of dispositional perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(5), 532-537.

Gnilka, P., McLaulin, S., Ashby, J. & Allen, M. (2017). Coping Resources As Mediators Of Multidimensional Perfectionism And Burnout. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. 69.

Gnilka, P., Broda, M.D., (2019). Multidimensional perfectionism, depression, and anxiety: Tests of a social support mediation model. Personality and Individual Differences, 139 (1), 295-300.

Greenspon, T.S. (2000). “Healthy Perfectionism” is an Oxymoron!: Reflections on the Psychology of Perfectionism and the Sociology of Science. Journal of Advanced Academics, 11(4), 197-208.

Greenspon, T.S. (2008). Making Sense of Error: A View of the Origins and Treatment of Perfectionism. American Journal of Psychotherapy 62(3), 263-82.

Hamachek, D. E. (1978). Psychodynamics of normal and neurotic perfectionism. Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior, 15(1), 27–33.

Harari, D., Swider, B. W., Steed, L. B., & Breidenthal, A. P. (2018). Is perfect good? A meta-analysis of perfectionism in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(10), 1121–1144.

Hewitt, P., & Flett, G. (1989). The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale: Development and validation. Canadian Psychology, 30, pp 339.

Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1991). Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: Conceptualization, assessment, and association with psychopathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(3), 456–470.

Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (2004). Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS): Technical manual. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., Sherry, S. B., & Caelian, C. (2006). Trait Perfectionism Dimensions and Suicidal Behavior. In T. E. Ellis (Ed.), Cognition and suicide: Theory, research, and therapy (pp. 215-235). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Mikail, S. F. (2017). Perfectionism: A relational approach to conceptualization, assessment, and treatment. The Guilford Press.

Hollender, M. H. (1965) Perfectionism. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 6(2), 94-103

Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: Norton.

Lo, A. & Abbott, M.J. (2019). Self-concept certainty in adaptive and maladaptive perfectionists. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 10(2),

Madigan, D.J. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of Perfectionism and Academic Achievement. Educational Psychology, 31, 967–989.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Missildine, W. H. (1991).Your Inner Child of the Past. Simon & Schuster.

Rice, K. G., Ashby, J. S., & Slaney, R. B. (1998). Self-esteem as a mediator between perfectionism and depression: A structural equations analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 304–314.

Rothstein, A. (1991). On some relationships of fantasies of perfection to the calamities

of childhood. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 72(2), 313–323.

Slade, P. D., & Owens, R. G. (1998). A dual process model of perfectionism based on reinforcement theory. Behavior Modification, 22, 372-390.

Slaney, R. B., Ashby, J. S., & Trippi, J. (1995). Perfectionism: Its measurement and career relevance. Journal of Career Assessment, 3(3), 279–297.

Slaney, R.B., Rice, K.G., Mobley, M., Trippi, J., & Ashby, J.S. (2001). The Revised Almost Perfect Scale. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development 34(3),130-145.

Slaney, R. B., Rice, K. G., & Ashby, J. S. (2002). A programmatic approach to measuring perfectionism: The Almost Perfect Scales. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (p. 63–88). American Psychological Association.

Smith, M. M., Saklofske, D. H., Stoeber, J. & Sherry, S.B. (2016). The Big Three Perfectionism Scale: A New Measure of Perfectionism. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 3(7), 670-687.

Smith, M. M., Saklofske, D. H., Yan, G., & Sherry, S. B. (2017). Does perfectionism predict depression, anxiety, stress, and life satisfaction after controlling for neuroticism? A study of Canadian and Chinese undergraduates. Journal of Individual Differences, 38(2), 63–70.

Speirs-Neumeister, K.L. (2004). Understanding the Relationship Between Perfectionism and Achievement Motivation. Gifted Child Quarterly, 48(3), 219 – 231.

Speirs-Neumeister, K.L., Williams, K.K., & Cross, T.L. (2009). Gifted High-School Students' Perspectives on the Development of Perfectionism. Roeper Review, 31(4), 198 – 206.

Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive Conceptions of Perfectionism: Approaches, Evidence, Challenges. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(4), 295–319.

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5).

Wade, T., O’Shea, A., & Shafran, R. (2016). Perfectionism and Eating Disorders. In: Sirois F., Molnar D. (eds), Perfectionism, Health, and Well-Being. Springer, Cham.