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

Ravensong Waterdancers to get you in sync

Teams will perform 12 routines at watershow on April 28

Soccer Whalers trip 49ers 1-0 in high school clash

Ballenas now prepares for North Island championships

Third delivery of building units for 222 Corfield in Parksville arrives April 26

Vehicles should expect intermittent, single-lane alternating traffic

City of Parksville to look into cost, process of beach cleanup

Cleanup would include removing rotten logs, adding sand

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read