Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Saklofske, Donald H


This article-based dissertation incrementally advanced our understanding of the contentiously debated (mal)adaptiveness of perfectionistic strivings (i.e., self-oriented perfectionism and personal standards). Perfectionistic strivings’ relations with negative emotionality, narcissism, depressive symptoms, and suicide were examined using structural equation modeling, path analysis, and meta-analysis. Additionally, bifactor modeling was used to explore how controlling for perfectionistic concerns (i.e., socially prescribed perfectionism, concern over mistakes, and doubts about actions) impacts perfectionistic strivings’ factor structure. Results suggest perfectionistic strivings are neither adaptive, healthy, positive, functional, nor advisable. Indeed, perfectionistic strivings exacerbated perfectionistic concerns’ relationship with negative emotionality. Likewise, controlling for perfectionistic concerns rendered perfectionistic strivings an unreliable factor. Self-oriented perfectionism also had a small, unique positive relationship with narcissistic grandiosity. Furthermore, perfectionistic strivings predicted small longitudinal increases in depressive symptoms beyond neuroticism. Similarly, daughters’ self-oriented perfectionism conferred risk for daughters’ depressive symptoms by eroding daughters’ social self-esteem. Lastly, perfectionistic strivings had a small positive relationship with suicide ideation. Overall, findings lend credence and coherence to theoretical accounts suggesting self-imposed pressures to be perfect are part of the premorbid personality of people prone to depression, suicide, social disconnection, negative emotionality, and narcissistic grandiosity. Investigators are strongly advised to cease a-priori labeling perfectionistic strivings “adaptive perfectionism”; doing so is an oversimplification of a double-edged, potentially lethal, construct. Researchers are also encouraged to explore further the perils of partialling.