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

Greater Trail Torch Run

Greater Trail RCMP and Special Olympics team up for annual Law Enforcement Torch Run.

CWL meets at Trail Legion for dinner

48 members and one guest attended June Holy Trinity CWL meeting

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Beaver Valley Scouts awarded for hard work

1st BV Scouts held their awards ceremony on Monday

Jason Bay enters Baseball Hall of Fame

Trail native Jason Bay will be an official hall-of-famer this weekend

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read