Work from our laboratories suggest that perfectionism is a multifaceted personality variable that includes three major components: Perfectionism traits (i.e., stable and enduring personality characteristics that reflect a need or drive to be perfect), perfectionistic self-presentation styles (i.e., behaviors that reflect not necessarily a need to be perfect but a drive to appear perfect to others), and an internal dialogue that reflects the relationship one has with oneself that involves perfectionistic automatic self-statements regarding the need to be or the need to appear to be perfect.
The perfectionism traits (Hewitt & Flett, 1991) include:
- Self-oriented perfectionism: Requiring oneself to be perfect (e.g., I need to be perfect)
- Other oriented perfectionism: Requiring others to be perfect (e.g., I need my child or spouse to be perfect)
- Socially prescribed perfectionism: The perception that others require perfection of oneself (e.g., I believe my family needs me to be perfect).
The perfectionistic self presentation facets (Hewitt et al., 2003) include:
- Perfectionistic self promotion: Presenting oneself as perfect in a public and overt manner (e.g., I must appear to be perfect at all times)
- Nondisplay of imperfections: Not showing anyone any behavior that is less than perfect (e.g., I must never show anyone any flaw).
- Nondisclosure of imperfections: Not admitting to any imperfection (e.g., I must not admit to any shortcoming).
Perfectionism Self-Statements (Flett, Hewitt, Blankstein, & Gray, 1998) reflect a cognitive element regarding a harsh and critical inner dialogue or conversation about needing to be perfect or needing to appear to be perfect.