Perfectionism and PERMA: The benefits of other-oriented perfectionism




perfectionism, other-oriented perfectionism, flourishing, wellbeing, PERMA, Positive Psychology


The two-factor theory of perfectionism differentiates between positive and negative forms, yet some researchers still argue that perfectionism, as a whole, is detrimental to wellbeing.  To this end, the present study investigated the relationship between the tripartite model of perfectionism and the PERMA model of wellbeing, with specific attention given to the relationship each form of perfectionism had with each element of wellbeing.  Ninety-two participants (M age = 24.99) completed online self-report measures of perfectionism (self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed) and PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment).  Results showed that perfectionism accounted for a substantial amount of variance in all elements of wellbeing.  A series of multiple regressions showed that socially prescribed perfectionism negatively predicted all PERMA elements.  Self-oriented perfectionism positively predicted positive emotion, engagement, meaning and accomplishment. Other-oriented perfectionism positively predicted meaning and accomplishment.  As for overall wellbeing, socially prescribed perfectionism was a negative predictor, whereas self-oriented and other-oriented perfectionism were positive predictors.  The findings indicate that self-oriented perfectionism is an adaptive form of perfectionism conducive to flourishing, whereas socially prescribed perfectionism is a maladaptive form which undermines it.  As for other-oriented perfectionism, the findings indicate it is an adaptive form and challenge the view that this “dark” form of perfectionism cannot enhance wellbeing.


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Author Biography

Deborah McGann, Northumbria University

Department of Psychology, Senior Lecturer