Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

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

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



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)


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.