Perfectionism and the Big Five: Conscientiousness predicts longitudinal increases in self-oriented perfectionism

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Stoeber, Joachim ; Otto, Kathleen ; Dalbert, Claudia (2009)

Findings from cross-sectional studies on the relationship between perfectionism and the Big Five personality traits demonstrate that conscientiousness shows significant positive correlations with self-oriented perfectionism, and neuroticism with socially prescribed perfectionism. The question is whether conscientiousness and neuroticism also predict longitudinal changes in self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism. A sample of 214 adolescents aged 14-19 years completed measures of the Big Five and perfectionism twice over a period of 5 to 8 months. As was expected, conscientiousness predicted longitudinal increases in self-oriented perfectionism. Neuroticism, however, did not predict any longitudinal increases in perfectionism—neither in self-oriented nor in socially prescribed perfectionism. Providing support for McCrae and Costa’s dynamic personality theory (McCrae & Costa, 1999) which holds that broad personality traits play a part in the development of lower-level personality characteristics, the findings suggest that conscientiousness is a trait that plays a role in the development of self-oriented perfectionism.
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