Perfectionistic self-presentation mediates the relationship between perfectionistic concerns and subjective well-being: A three-wave longitudinal study

Dimensions of perfectionism are often proposed, but seldom integrated. Perfectionistic concerns and perfectionistic strivings were conceptualized as traits (core, relatively unchanging aspects of personality) and perfectionistic self-presentation as a characteristic adaptation (a contextualized cognitive-behavioral strategy). Theory suggests traits predispose people to engage in corresponding characteristic adaptations, and that perfectionistic concerns confer vulnerability for subjective well-being (SWB). It was hypothesized that perfectionistic concerns – but not perfectionistic strivings – would have an indirect effect on SWB through perfectionistic self-presentation. Young adults (ages 18–24) transitioning into university for the first time (N = 127) participated in a three-wave, 130-day longitudinal study. As hypothesized, perfectionistic self-presentation mediated the relationship between perfectionistic concerns and SWB. In contrast, perfectionistic strivings did not predict longitudinal change in perfectionistic self-presentation or SWB. This research integrates prior theory, and provides a novel test of hypotheses using longitudinal data.