Is Perfectionism a Killer of Creative Thinking _pre-print
The standards that a person pursue in life can be set in a rigid or flexible way. The recent literature has emphasized a distinction between high and realistic standards of excellence, from high and unrealistic standards of perfection. In two studies, we investigated the role of striving toward excellence (i.e., excellencism) and striving toward perfection (i.e., perfectionism) in relation to divergent thinking, associative thinking, and openness to experience, general self-efficacy, and
... e self-beliefs. In Study 1, 279 university students completed three divergent thinking items which called for creative uses of two common objects and original things which make noise. A measure of openness to experience was included. Results from multiple regression indicated that participants pursuing excellence tended to generate more answers and more original ones compared to those pursuing perfection. Openness to experience was positively associated to excellencism and negatively associated to perfectionism. In Study 2 (n = 401 university students), we replicated these findings and extended them to non-creative associative tasks requiring participants to generate chains of unrelated words. Additional individual differences measures included general self-efficacy, creative self-efficacy, and creative personal identity. The results suggested that excellencism was associated with better performance on divergent thinking and associative tasks, compared to perfectionism. Excellencism was positively associated with all four personality variables, whereas perfectionism was significantly and negatively associated with openness to experience only. Implications for the distinction between perfectionism and excellencism with respect to creative indicators are discussed. In addition, the paradoxical finding that perfection strivers had high creative self-efficacy and creative personal identity but lower openness to experience and poorer performance on objective indicators of creative abilities is discussed.