Millennials Increasingly Strive for Perfection

From - January 3, 2018

Millennials Increasingly Strive for Perfection

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 3, 2018 -- Perfectionism has reached new heights among young people, a new study suggests.

This intense desire to succeed could take a toll on their mental health, the researchers speculated.

The findings come from an analysis of data on more than 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students who completed a test that measured three types of perfectionism: the irrational desire to be perfect, perceived pressure from others to be perfect and having unrealistic expectations of others.

The study assessed changes in perfectionism over time, from the 1980s to 2016.

It found that college students scored much higher in all forms of perfectionism in recent years than they had in the past. For instance, scores indicating an irrational desire to be perfect -- also called self-inflicted perfectionism -- jumped 10 percent between 1989 and 2016. During this time, scores for external pressure to be perfect increased 33 percent and scores for unrealistic expectations of others jumped 16 percent.

Several driving forces may help explain the rise in perfectionism among millennials, according to the study authors.

The trend may be linked to social media, they said, because it can cause young people to increasingly compare themselves to others. This could lead to body image issues and social isolation, the researchers cautioned.

Perfectionism among young people is also associated with the desire to move up the social and economic ladder, earning higher grades than their peers, becoming more educated and achieving career goals, the British researchers said.

"Meritocracy places a strong need for young people to strive, perform and achieve in modern life," said study author Thomas Curran, of the University of Bath.

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