50 Shades of Grey: Perfectionists have a dark side to them

50 Shades of Grey: Perfectionists have a dark side to them
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A new study has suggested that the type of perfectionist who sets impossibly high standards for others has a bit of a dark side.

A new study has suggested that the type of perfectionist who sets impossibly high standards for others has a bit of a dark side.


University of Kent's Joachim Stoeber, who compared the characteristics of so-called other-orientated perfectionists against those of perfectionists who set the bar extremely high for themselves, said that the formers tend to be narcissistic, antisocial and to have an aggressive sense of humor. They care little about social norms and do not readily fit into the bigger social picture.

Perfectionism is a personality trait that is characterized by the setting of extremely high standards and being overly critical of oneself or others. Psychologists recognize three types of perfectionism, each with different beliefs, attitudes, motivations and behaviors.

"Self-oriented" perfectionists have exceedingly high personal standards, strive for perfection and expect themselves to be perfect. In comparison, "socially prescribed" perfectionists believe that being perfect is important to others and therefore strive to be flawless. People who have one of these tendencies all tend to be highly critical of themselves.

In contrast, "other-oriented" perfectionists are only disparaging and judgmental about others. Not only do they expect other people to be perfect, but they can also be highly critical of those who fail to meet their expectations.

Stoeber found self-orientated perfectionism to be the only one of the three forms that has a pro-social element to it. Even though they focus on themselves, they show an interest in others, care about social norms and about others' expectations. They prefer affiliative humor that enhances relationships, and shy away from aggressive jokes.

Socially prescribed perfectionists, on the other hand, make self-deprecating jokes, have a low self-esteem and a low self-regard, and often feel inferior. They can be quite antisocial and unemotional, and do not respond well to positive feedback.

The study appears in Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. (ANI)
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