Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Woodruff-Borden, Janet

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adelson, Jill

Committee Member

Adelson, Jill

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara

Committee Member

Salmon, Paul

Committee Member

Rosen, Paul

Author's Keywords

perfectionism; development; temperament; parenting; effortful control


Our understanding of perfectionism and its developmental trajectory and impact on children has experienced a recent growth. Research has shown that child perfectionism is associated with a number of negative outcomes including anxiety and depressive disorders, hopelessness, poor psychosocial treatment outcomes, and researchers have not found it to be associated with actual achievement. As such, research has begun to examine the developmental risk factors that predict for its development. The current study proposes utilizing a developmental psychopathology approach, one that purports a complex interaction among internal, external, risk and protective processes in the developmental of perfectionism. Specifically, the study examined whether negative affect, effortful control, and anxious rearing would predict levels of perfectionism in children using path analysis. Effortful control and negative affect were measured using parent-report, anxious rearing was measured by parent- and child-report, and perfectionism was measured through self-report and a behavioral task. It was hypothesized that child-reported anxious rearing and perfectionism measured with a behavioral task would provide the best fitting model and provide at least an adequate fit for the data. Additionally, it was hypothesized that in this model anxious rearing and negative affect would predict increased levels of child perfectionism, that there would be a significant indirect effect of anxious rearing on the association between negative affect and perfectionism, and that effortful control would interact with negative affect and anxious rearing in the prediction of child perfectionism. Participants were 60 parent-child dyads with children between the ages of 7 and 13 recruited from the community. Overall, results partially supported the hypotheses. The best fitting model used child-reported anxious rearing and behaviorally assessed perfectionism. Within this model, anxious rearing and effortful control significantly predicted for child perfectionism. However, negative affect did not predict child perfectionism. Additionally, there was a significant indirect effect of anxious rearing. Lastly, the interaction between effortful control and anxious rearing and, separately, negative affect did not significantly predict for child perfectionism. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical and conceptual implications for the study of child perfectionism and suggestions for future research are presented.