The manifestations of perfectionistic self-presentation in a clinical sample

Amy Marie Habke
Perfectionism has long been recognized as an important personality trait that has a significant impact on emotional and social well-being. More recently, it has been recognized that there is a stylistic aspect to perfectionism that focuses on a desire to appear perfect. This perfectionistic self-presentation, and in particular, the desire for concealment of imperfections, has been related to psychopathology in past research. However, it is proposed that perfectionistic self-presentation
more » ... resentation presents a particular concern from a clinical perspective because of it's indirect effects on pathology; a desire to conceal imperfections is especially problematic to the extent that it impacts the experience of therapy and the therapy relationship. The current study examined the cognitive, affective/physiological, and behavioral manifestations of perfectionistic self-presentation in a clinical sample. Ninety clinical subjects completed self-report measures of perfectionistic self-presentation, trait perfectionism, impression management, mood, appraisals, and self-handicapping. A brief structured assessment interview that included a discussion of past mistakes, was conducted by trained clinical interviewers. Physiological monitors recorded heart rate and skin conductance level throughout the interview, and the interview was videotaped. Post-interview measures of mood, appraisals, and self-handicapping, were also completed. Results at the bivariate level showed that the self-protective dimensions of perfectionistic self-presentation were associated with more distress both prior to and following the interview, higher heart rate and greater change in heart rate when discussing mistakes (and greater skin conductance for men), greater claims of disability from self-handicaps, and appraisals of the interviewer as both threatening (wanting more than the participant could provide) and disappointed following the interview. Regression analyses showed that the desire to avoid disclosing imperfections was a unique predic [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0099204 fatcat:pw6erizufvfjbfq254m6jfdszu