Self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionists' responses to feedback : investigating aspiration level, persistence, and performance.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


Research on perfectionism indicates that self-oriented perfectionism, in which one's motivation to be perfect is internal, can be adaptive. Conversely, socially prescribed perfectionism, in which one's motivation to be perfect is due to external pressure, can be maladaptive. Past research has looked at perfectionism's associations with academic and athletic achievement and motivation in the long-term. Likewise, research has examined different types of perfectionists' affective reactions to feedback. The goal of the current research was to investigate how self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionists respond to feedback on an initial task in terms of their aspiration levels, persistence, and performance on a subsequent task. Participants first completed an anagram task and were then randomly assigned to receive either positive or negative feedback. Participants indicated their preferred level of difficulty for a second anagram task as a measure of aspiration level and then completed this task in which five of the 20 anagrams were unsolvable. Persistence was measured by the average amount of time participants spent on the unsolvable anagrams. Performance was measured by the speed with which participants completed the solvable anagrams and by the number of anagrams they solved correctly. Finally, participants completed subscales of the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale among other demographic questions. Results indicated that participants who received negative feedback had lower aspiration levels and persistence than participants who received positive feedback. In addition, higher levels of self-oriented perfectionism predicted higher aspiration levels, persistence, and performance whereas higher socially prescribed perfectionism predicted lower aspiration levels, persistence, and performance. Furthermore, in the positive feedback condition, higher levels of socially prescribed perfectionism predicted lower performance levels. Implications of these findings are discussed.