Self-Critical Perfectionism Gnaws on Students’ Well-Being Already in Lower Secondary School

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.

A new study among ninth-graders attending lower secondary school in Swedish-speaking areas of Finland identified four perfectionistic profiles with varying associations with students’ psychological well-being. The study was conducted in collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland and Åbo Akademi University.

Perfectionism is characterized by high standards and striving for excellence, but it also involves concerns over one’s own performance and dissatisfaction with one’s achievements. In other words, there is both a positive and a negative side to perfectionism. Different individuals, however, place different emphasis on strivings and concerns.

“We identified four distinct perfectionistic profiles: moderately concerned (relatively low strivings and relatively high concerns), perfectionists (high strivings and high concerns), ambitious (high strivings and low concerns), and non-perfectionists (low strivings and low concerns),” Doctoral Researcher Anna Kuusi of the University of Eastern Finland says.

The study showed that perfectionistic profiles are substantially stable: around 80 percent of the students maintained the same profile over the school year. However, some significant transitions were observed as well: some students transitioned from moderately concerned to non-perfectionist or perfectionist or from perfectionist to moderately concerned. The profiles and transitions were also associated with well-being.

“Although both ambitious and perfectionist students were highly engaged and had high strivings, perfectionists displayed more burnout and anxiety and depressive symptoms than ambitious students, who only displayed a little of these. Both of these profiles, i.e., ambitious and perfectionist, which are characterized by high concerns, were associated with poorer well-being.”

The moderately concerned profile was the most prevalent, and it can be thought to represent the typical ninth-grader. According to Kuusi, this is noteworthy because students with this profile also displayed relatively high emotional exhaustion as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms, compared to students with a non-perfectionist or an ambitious profile.

Source: ScienceDaily

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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