The existential model of perfectionism and depressive symptoms: Tests of incremental validity, gender differences, and moderated mediation

Socially prescribed perfectionism (i.e., perceiving others are demanding perfection of oneself) is a putative vulnerability factor for depressive symptoms. However, there is still much to learn about when and why socially prescribed perfectionists get depressed. Drawing on the existential model of perfectionism and depressive symptoms (EMPDS), we proposed difficulty in accepting the past (i.e., viewing life experiences as coherent, acceptable, satisfying, and meaningful) clarifies when and why socially prescribed perfectionism is linked to depressive symptoms. In the present study of 269 undergraduates (141 men and 128 women), we tested if accepting the past predicts depressive symptoms beyond competing explanations (e.g., self-esteem). And we extended existing research by testing a novel moderated mediation model wherein the strength of the mediated effect of socially prescribed perfectionism on depressive. symptoms through accepting the past is stronger at higher levels of socially prescribed perfectionism than at lower levels of socially prescribed perfectionism. We also tested if our results generalized across women and men. Hypotheses were largely supported. Consistent with the EMPDS, our results suggested people high in socially prescribed perfectionism get depressed because they struggle to consolidate their life experiences into a personally meaningful story.