Study finds rise in millennial perfectionism, parents and social media blamed

Women and men reported similar levels of perfectionism

Dr. Simon Sherry poses in this undated handout photo. A new study has found a sharp rise in perfectionism, suggesting millennials are more inclined to have unrealistic standards and harsher self-criticism than previous generations. The study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Review says perfectionism increased substantially from 1990 to 2015 and that women and men report similar levels of perfectionism. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - CRUX Psychology)

Millennials are more inclined to be perfectionists than previous generations, according to a new study that found a rise in perfectionism from 1990 to 2015.

The study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Review suggested parental and socio-cultural factors, including a rise in social media, contributed to increasing rates of perfectionism.

Dr. Simon Sherry, one of the study’s authors and a clinical psychologist in Halifax, said perfectionism is a serious and even deadly epidemic in modern western societies.

“We see similarly alarming increases in mental health problems on our university campuses, including depression, anxiety and stress,” Sherry, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Dalhousie University, said in an interview Tuesday.

“Perfectionism may be caught up in the rising tide of mental health problems.”

READ MORE: B.C. teens struggling more with anxiety, depression: 2018 report

One of the largest studies ever conducted on perfectionism, the meta-analytic review — a “study of studies” — involved 77 studies and nearly 25,000 participants ranging in age from 15 to 49.

It found that perfectionists tend to strive for flawlessness, have unrealistic standards, and experience intense pressure to be perfect.

They also tend to become more neurotic — characterized by negative emotions like guilt, envy, and anxiety — and less conscientious as time passes, according to the study.

It also found women and men reported similar levels of perfectionism.

Sherry said social media has put unprecedented pressure on children and youth to conform to unrealistic standards.

He said children need to learn to have healthy skepticism toward the seemingly perfect lives promoted through social media and advertisements.

“We need to cultivate a culture-wide skepticism toward these unrealistic and idealized media and social media images we’re being bombarded with,” Sherry said.

The study also found that parental criticism and expectations — including parents that are overly judgmental or hold unrealistically high expectations — can contribute to perfectionism.

Sherry said the so-called helicopter and snowplow styles of parenting put undue pressure on children.

“We often have hovering, controlling and critical parents, who push their kids to be perfect,” he said. “These parents often love their children in a conditional manner … these kids are only as good as their last grade, their soccer game, their last hockey match because the parents love them proportionate to how well they are performing.”

Sherry added: “It’s a very difficult message for a child to internalize. We need to challenge these parents not to nurture or love their children in a performance-contingent way.”

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Man found dead near Alberni teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18

Soapbox derby a success in uptown Port Alberni

Organizers say an adult racing category is coming for 2020

Alberni teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

Two Port Alberni teens are missing after their vehicle was found on… Continue reading

Watch the museum come to life with Our Town in Port Alberni

July 23 event takes place at Gyro Recreation Park

Alberni drag racers travel to Port McNeill for event on airport runway

More than 20 drag racers from the Alberni Valley travelled to Port… Continue reading

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations on Nanaimo route

One sailing from West Vancouver and one sailing from Nanaimo cancelled Monday

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Most Read