Common Traits of a Perfectionist Personality Type
Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel compelled to excel? Do you pride yourself on being rational and methodical in your approach to work? Are you hard on yourself or do you never quite live up to your own expectations? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you may have a perfectionist personality type.
Perfectionism Traits at a Glance
Prone to Depression
Perfectionist Personality Traits
According to the Enneagram personality type assessment, Perfectionists are fair and objective people who strive to live good lives. They are accurate, thorough and orderly. Perfectionists view themselves as rational and principled, and want others to view them as reliable, responsible and hardworking.
Perfectionists have a strong sense of purpose and high ideals. They like to excel in whatever they do. Perfectionists are extremely detail oriented and methodical. Perfectionists sometimes come across as critical and judgmental. They have a harsh inner critic that sometimes spills over into their relationships with others. Perfectionists may become easily frustrated in group projects if they feel others are not “pulling their weight”.
People with the maladaptive form of this personality type tend to deal with self-esteem issues. They are extremely self-critical and have a need for positive feedback from others to bolster their sense of self-worth. They may become very obsessed with others opinions. Their need to strive for flawlessness, in combination with their extremely self-critical nature can leave them vulnerable to depression and intense anxiety. Sometimes they externalize their personal disappointments by focusing their judgment on those around them. They don't always correct people to “be mean” or harsh, but because they have an inner desire to prevent others from making mistakes or getting hurt.
Enneagram testing is the most detailed assessment of personality characteristics available. For those who truly want to know more about how their mind works, a complete test with explanations is a worthwhile investment. Far more thorough and accurate than any online test.
Psychology of Perfectionism
In psychology, perfectionism is a considered to be a personality disposition. It's characterized by setting extremely high performance standards and a compulsion to strive for flawlessness. In moderate cases, it can be positive, causing people to push hard and achieve great accomplishments. When it becomes exaggerated, it becomes destructive, leading people to strive for unattainable and unrealistic goals. When those goals cannot be met, it leads to reduced self-esteem and depression.
Types of Perfectionism
According to Psychology Today, there are three types of perfectionism: self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed.
Self-oriented perfectionists are driven by a need to avoid personal failure. They set rigid standards for themselves that they adhere to at all costs. They are extremely self-critical.
Other-oriented perfectionists are judgmental and critical of others. They tend to set unrealistic expectations on their spouses, children, friends, and co-workers.
Socially prescribed perfectionists believe that others hold them to higher standards than anyone else and that they can never measure up to the standards set for them.
Not all perfectionism is bad, particularly if it is targeted to one area. For example an elite athlete may be a perfectionist when it comes to training. He/she has the motivation to work out rigorously every day, they learn from their mistakes and actively try to fix them. This form of perfectionism is a generalized form that tends to be focused on one area of life. This can actually be healthy, pushing the individual to work harder and achieve greater goals.
Many people are perfectionists to a degree, those who are career driven for example, might be considered “perfectionist” if they are always striving to perfect their technique. In some careers, it is ideal to have someone who is a bit of a perfectionist. Most people don't want to get on an airline with a half-assed pilot for example.
The Dark Side
When perfectionism takes over numerous aspects of life it becomes problematic. It's impossible to feel joy in a life where you feel you never measure up. Perfectionism can lead to frustration and crippling fears. Some people who are extreme perfectionists never excel at anything. They refuse to try simply because the fear of failure is so great. If you don't try, you can't fail – so there's a certain comfort in mediocrity that can set in.
Extreme perfectionists struggle with acceptance and routinely set themselves up for failure. The ideals they hold in their mind do not match the reality of what is truly possible. It becomes a vicious circle of failure, lowered self-esteem and even depression or feelings of despair.
Are You a Perfectionist?
There are some interesting quizzes online that can help you assess your level of perfectionism and if it is hindering you in life.
The BBC has the multidimensional perfectionism scale questionnaire to help you determine how much of a perfectionist you are. It has 35 questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. The end results compare you with others who have taken the assessment, giving you an idea of where you rank for each category.
The perfectionism test on Queendom is very enlightening. You don't have to register if you don't want to. The testing is thorough and the results are explained very well. Turns out despite my concerns, I have a healthy level of perfectionism :). How about you?