Perfectionists tend to be narcissistic, anti-social: Study

  • IANS, London
  • Updated: May 16, 2015 19:14 IST

Is your boss a perfectionist? Well, in that case he could be having a dark side too. A new study says that perfectionists tend to be narcissistic, anti-social and to have an aggressive sense of humour.

Also, the type of perfectionist who sets impossibly high standards for others, cares little about social norms and does not readily fit into the bigger social picture. Reminds you of someone?

Joachim Stoeber of the University of Kent, England, compared the characteristics of so-called other-oriented perfectionists against those of perfectionists who set the bar extremely high for themselves.

"Other-oriented perfectionism is a 'dark' form of perfectionism positively associated with narcissistic, anti-social and uncaring personality characteristics," said Stoeber.

Psychologists recognise three types of perfectionism, each with different beliefs, attitudes, motivations and behaviour.

"Self-oriented" perfectionists have exceedingly high personal standards, strive for perfection and expect themselves to be perfect.

In comparison, "socially prescribed" perfectionists believe that being perfect is important to others and therefore strive to be flawless. People who have one of these tendencies all tend to be highly critical of themselves.

"In contrast, "other-oriented" perfectionists are only disparaging and judgmental about others. Not only do they expect other people to be perfect, but they can also be highly critical of those who fail to meet their expectations," Stoeber added.

Stoeber questioned 229 university students and found that other-oriented perfectionists in turn have quite an aggressive sense of humour, which is used at the expense of others.

"This is just one of the many uncaring traits they have that make them disregard the expectations of others and social norms. They have a sense of superiority and do not easily fit into a bigger social circle, making them quite anti-social," he explained.

Socially prescribed perfectionists, on the other hand, make self-deprecating jokes, have low self-esteem and low self-regard, and often feel inferior.

The study appeared in Springer's Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioural Assessment.

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