The Relationship between Perfectionism and Coping across Research-Selected and Participant-Selected Stressful Events

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology


Within the past two decades, and abundance of research has examined the relationship between multidimensional models of perfectionism and psychopathology. Many studies have narrowed their focus to examining how adaptive and maladaptive dimensions of perfectionism relate to stress and methods of coping. Research findings suggest that maladaptive perfectionists are more likely than adaptive perfectionists to use maladaptive methods of coping, which in turn may lead to the development of maladaptive behaviors. The objective of the present study was to examine relationships between maladaptive and adaptive perfectionism and coping, while also looking for coping differences across situation-specific vignettes. Four survey packets contained a different vignette type which was either academic or social. A fifth packet instructed participants to report how they coped with a situation from their own past. Packets were randomly distributed to 373 participants (male = 133 female = 240). Each participant completed The Coping Strategies Inventory (CSI) (Tobin, Holroyd, Reynolds, & Wigal, 1989) and the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990). Analyses suggest several significant correlations between maladaptive subscales of perfectionism and maladaptive methods of coping. Significant relationships were also reported between adaptive dimensions of perfectionism and adaptive methods of coping. However, perfectionism and coping were not related to each other under the control condition. The data also suggest that the specific details of each vignette type strongly influence the methods of coping that an individual reports. Thus, differences across vignette types support the notion that coping is influenced both by trait and state variables.