Library Dissertation Showcase

Can perfectionistic strivings be healthy? The association between perfectionism, character strength use and flourishing

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

Perfectionism has prevalently been viewed as maladaptive. However, this disposition consists of two high-order dimensions, perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. These dimensions show different, often polarising, associations with wellbeing outcomes. One of these outcomes, that requires further research, is flourishing. This study sought to explore perfectionism and its associations with flourishing via character strength use. Flourishing appears to be facilitated by optimal strength use and hindered by strength imbalances. Extending previous literature, it was hypothesised that perfectionistic strivings would associate with optimal strength use and flourishing. Whereas perfectionistic concerns were hypothesised to associate with character strength imbalances and a lack of flourishing. For this cross-sectional survey design, 182 students (153 female, 27 male, 1 non-binary) of the University of Lincoln completed the study online. Respondents completed the Overuse Underuse Optimal Use (OUOU) of Character Strengths survey, the Short Almost Perfect (SAP) scale and the Flourishing Scale (FS). Investigation of the correlations supported the hypotheses. Perfectionistic strivings positively correlated with flourishing and optimal strength use. Whereas, perfectionistic concerns were found to negatively correlate with flourishing and positively correlate with strength overuse and underuse. Regressions and discriminant analyses were conducted to explore the key character strengths associated with these dimensions of perfectionism. Perfectionistic strivings were explained by the optimal use of spirituality and infrequent underuse of perseverance and prudence. Perfectionistic concerns related to the overuse of humility, underuse of hope and humour alongside a lack of optimal self-regulation. Overall, individuals high on perfectionistic strivings demonstrated adaptive associations while individuals high on perfectionistic concerns displayed maladaptive ones. Character strengths were not conclusive in terms of diagnosing perfectionism. Nonetheless, the current study provides an informative approach to investigating past associations and discovering novel ones. The implications for future research are discussed.

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