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Young show perfectionism more than past generations

Young people display greater perfectionist tendencies today than 30 years ago due to the increasing demands of society and competitive individualism, a study shows


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Young people display greater perfectionist tendencies today than 30 years ago due to increasing demands across society, a study shows.

Researchers from the University of Bath and York St John University analysed data from over 40,000 British, Canadian and US university students between 1989 and 2016 who completed the multidimensional perfectionism scale test.

The authors of the study, published in Psychological Bulletin, suggest the impact of neoliberalism, which has encouraged competitive individualism, may be a factor in mental health difficulties.

Unrealistic expectations

The extent to which young people attach an irrational importance to being perfect, hold unrealistic expectations of themselves and are highly self-critical has increased by 10%.

Imposing unrealistic standards on those around them and evaluating others critically has increased by 16%.

The extent to which young people perceive that their environment is excessively demanding, that others judge them harshly and that they must display perfection to secure approval has risen by 33%, the study showed.


Curran T and Andrew P (2017) Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin. doi.org/10.1037/bul0000138

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