347 Perfectionism & Generations


Research by Curran, T., & Hill, P. H. (2017).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

We all know people who must make EVERYTHING perfect. They’re our friendly perfectionists.  Perfectionism is a combination of very high personal standards and critical self-evaluations. In our-changing technological age, do people strive for more perfection?

Studying trends, researchers did a comprehensive analysis of 164 studies, from 1989 to 2016.  Over 40,000 college students completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale.  Those with perfectionistic beliefs and behaviors may direct high, unrealistic standards and expectations and self-criticism towards themselves, others, or feel imposed upon by others’ unrealistic expectations and standards.

Results? Self-oriented, socially prescribed, and other-oriented perfectionism have all steadily increased 10-30% over the years. Younger generations believe others are more demanding of them and they are more demanding of others and themselves. These contribute to their need for overall perfection.

Researchers believe our culture’s individualism is a large factor in our growing perfectionism, with each generation facing more competition, unrealistic expectations and controlling guardians.

Striving for high goals and standards can lead to success, yet there’s a danger. Tying one’s total self-worth to achievement, can make you vulnerable to depression or stress. Let’s focus on ALL our life values and relationships. Thus, enjoy a lasting sense of satisfaction in our accomplishments.


Curran, T., & Hill, P. H. (2017). Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin.


About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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