Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Domain-Specific Perfectionism in Adolescents: Using Expectancy-Value Theory to Predict Mental Health

Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Eric Dubow (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Marlise Lonn (Other)

Third Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

William Hayes O'Brien (Committee Member)

Abstract

Perfectionism, or the tendency to hold rigidly to high standards (Flett & Hewitt, 2006), is prevalent in adolescence (e.g., Rice, Ashby, & Gilman, 2011), and linked to mental health struggles (e.g., depression and anxiety; Accordino, Accordino, & Slaney, 2000; Essau, Leung, Conradt, Cheng, & Wong, 2008). Research has linked domain-specific perfectionism (e.g., academics, athletics, relationships) with elements of Expectancy-Value Theory, such as perceived competence (e.g., Mouratidis & Michou, 2011) and task value (e.g., Dunn, Dunn, & McDonald, 2012), suggesting these may be important constructs in understanding the impact of domain-specific perfectionism on mental health. Additionally, it is important to explore how coping strategies (e.g., self-compassion) buffer in the impact of domain-specific perfectionism on mental health. In this study, I tested moderated moderation models exploring how domains of perfectionism (academic, social, physical appearance) relate to internalizing symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety, physical symptoms), with domain value as a moderator, and perceived domain competence and self-compassion as moderators of the moderation effect. Results indicate that within the social domain, social value was a significant moderator of the relation between perfectionism and internalizing symptoms, and that perceived social competence was a significant moderator of the moderation effect. I also found marginal support for physical appearance value as a moderator between physical appearance perfectionism and internalizing symptoms; however, results were not in the hypothesized direction. These findings provide some support for the use of the Expectancy-Value Theory model to predict mental health and suggest the importance of examining perfectionism in adolescents across domains of life.

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