Self-critical perfectionism confers vulnerability to depression after controlling for neuroticism: A longitudinal study of middle-aged, community-dwelling women

Self-critical perfectionism (i.e., negative reactions to perceived failures, concern over others’ criticism and expectations, doubts about abilities, and intense self-rebuke) represents a putative vulnerability factor for depressive symptoms. However, few studies have examined self-critical perfectionism and depressive symptoms longitudinally, and no longitudinal study has tested whether the relationship between self-critical perfectionism and depressive symptoms holds after controlling for neuroticism. Past research on self-critical perfectionism and depressive symptoms has used either undergraduate or psychiatric samples, suggesting a need to broaden this relatively narrow evidence base. The present study advances previous research by testing the relationship between self-critical perfectionism and depressive symptoms, while controlling for neuroticism, in a longitudinal study of 218 middle-aged, community-dwelling women. Wave 1 self-critical perfectionism significantly predicted increases in Wave 2 depressive symptoms after controlling for Wave 1 neuroticism and Wave 1 depressive symptoms, thereby supporting study hypotheses. These data suggest self-critical perfectionism (a lower-order, narrow-band personality trait) may be a unique and a specific lower-order personality trait that is neither captured by nor redundant with neuroticism (a higher-order, broad-band personality trait). Self-critical perfectionism may represent part of the premorbid personality of individuals vulnerable to depressive symptoms.