Perfectly Alone (and Anxious): A Test of the Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model in Adolescents
Perfectionism contributes to psychopathology in youth. Yet, little research has examined the pathways that may explicate why perfectionism is a risk factor for poorer outcomes, particularly among youth. Consequently, in this program of research I examined associations between trait dimensions of perfectionism (i.e., perfectionistic strivings and concerns) and anxiety within the framework of the Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model (PSDM). In Study 1, I tested whether perfectionistic strivings and concerns (as measured by the Almost Perfect Scale-Revised; Slaney et al., 2001) were related to adolescent-reported and mother-reported anxiety via social disconnection in a high-risk sample of adolescents. Social disconnection was assessed as a latent variable comprised of three indicators: relational victimization, school connectedness, and parental acceptance. Overall, results indicated that perfectionistic concerns were related to higher levels of adolescent-reported anxiety and that social disconnection emerged as an explanatory pathway linking higher levels of perfectionistic concerns to higher levels of adolescent-reported anxiety. In Study 2, I tested whether perfectionistic strivings and concerns (as measured by the Child and Adolescent Perfectionism Scale; Flett et al., 2001) were related to adolescent-reported anxiety in a community sample of adolescents via social disconnection. For Study 2, I used a more comprehensive latent variable for social disconnection that was comprised of four indicators: relational victimization, school connectedness, parental acceptance, and subjective loneliness. Replicating the findings from Study 1, social disconnection again emerged as an explanatory pathway linking higher levels of perfectionistic concerns to higher levels of adolescent-reported anxiety. These findings support the PSDM in youth, raise important questions about the link between perfectionism and social functioning, and have implications for prevention and intervention development.