CBS Local — “Close enough” apparently isn’t good enough for today’s young adults. A study looking at college students from 1989 to 2016 found that the personality traits that label someone a “perfectionist” have risen dramatically in recent years.
Researchers at Britain’s University of Bath studied over 41,000 American, British, and Canadian students and administered a test known as the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. The results measure three types of perfectionism: self-oriented (an irrational desire to be perfect), socially prescribed (perceiving high expectations from others), and other-oriented (putting unrealistic standards on others).
“Probably has something to do with the increased use of technology,” said Olga K., a student at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since the first tests were carried out in 1989, researchers say the number of young adults falling into each category has jumped by at least 10 percent. The number of socially prescribed perfectionists has risen by a staggering 33 percent. Other-oriented perfectionists have also gone up by 16 percent since 1989.
Researchers point to many factors, but raw data suggest social media and our tendency to compare could be the driving force.
“They all upload the best picture of themselves, tweet about nice things that happen to them,” said Olga K.
“You’re probably not posting your low lights, ya know?” added Dave Dolt of Bensalem.
“Trying to keep up the perfect image of themselves on social media can drive people crazy,” said Andrew Williamson of Philadelphia.
“Meritocracy places a strong need for young people to strive, perform and achieve in modern life,” lead author Dr. Thomas Curran said in an American Psychological Association release. “As a result, perfectionism is rising among millennials.”
The report, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, draws a link between the number of young people being labeled as perfectionists and the rise in mental health issues being diagnosed. The researchers claims that millennials are cracking under the pressure to be at their best in school, work, and even on social media.
Authors of the study say that could actually be the case citing higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. That’s why they suggest schools stop encouraging competition. But, not everyone agrees.
“It’s good to have a healthy dose of competition,” said Jennifer Auter of Rittenhouse.
“It’s all about being the best version of you,” added Tahira Williams of North Philadelphia.