Recent evidence demonstrates rising self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism among young people from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada (Curran & Hill, 2019).
One reason why perfectionism is increasing may be that rising competitiveness and individualism are requiring parents to engage in anxious, overly involved, and/or overly controlling forms of parenting. Yet, data to support this claim are limited and contested.
In two meta-analyses, we expanded upon and tested this claim by examining whether excessive parental expectations and harsh parental criticism are correlated with perfectionism (Study 1) and whether these perceived practices are changing over time among American, Canadian, and British college students (Study 2).
In Study 1, meta-analyses found small-to-moderate positive mean weighted effects of parental expectations and parental criticism on self-oriented and other-oriented perfectionism, and large positive mean weighted effects of parental expectations and parental criticism on socially prescribed perfectionism.
In Study 2, using cross-temporal meta-analysis, we found that mean levels of parental expectations and parental criticism had linearly increased between 1989 and 2019 among college students. With rising competitiveness, individualism, economic inequality, and pressure to excel at school and college as the societal background, increases in parental expectations and parental criticism offer the most plausible explanation for rising perfectionism to date.
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