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Title: Perfectionism, health and preventive health behaviours
Author: Williams, Charlotte J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 8008
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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The perfectionism and health literature suggests that maladaptive perfectionism is associated with a plethora of negative health outcomes and adaptive perfectionism with both favourable and unfavourable health outcomes. Additionally, a small amount of research has proposed maladaptive perfectionists may refrain from engaging in preventive health behaviours whilst adaptive perfectionists may engage more readily. This thesis explored the differences between adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism in relation to engagement in preventive health behaviours as well as addressing possible intervening variables in the perfectionism, engagement relationship (e.g. self-presentation, perceived stress, self-efficacy and affect). Four studies were carried out. In study 1, (N=370), using a sample of university students, results identified maladaptive perfectionism to be associated with decreased engagement in preventive health behaviours and adaptive perfectionism with increased engagement. Self-concealment (a self-presentational strategy) was found to partially mediate the perfectionism, engagement relationship for maladaptive perfectionists. In study 2, (N= 875), again with university students, (using a different conceptualisation of perfectionism), results showed that although ‘type’ of perfectionism did not interact with perceived stress to influence engagement, significant differences were identified between type of perfectionism and a number of health related variables. In study 3, results from a qualitative study involving university students showed that factors inherent in the university environment as well as factors characteristic of perfectionism prohibited engagement in preventive health behaviours. In study 4, using a general population sample, adaptive perfectionism was associated with greater engagement but no relationship was found for maladaptive perfectionism. Various factors were found to moderate and mediate the perfectionism, engagement relationship for adaptive perfectionism and adaptive perfectionism was associated with more benefits to engagement and maladaptive perfectionism with more barriers to engagement in preventive health behaviours. In summary, the results from this thesis suggest there are differences between the two perfectionism dimensions in relation to engagement and other health variables, although this may be dependent on the population/context being studied. More research is warranted to explore the perfectionism, engagement relationship specifically looking at different populations to establish whether maladaptive perfectionists in a university environment represent a particularly vulnerable group.
Supervisor: Cropley, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available