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Title: An experimental manipulation of maternal expectations : the impact on maternal control, maternal criticism and perfection in young people
Author: Button, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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Background: Several authors have suggested one pathway by which perfectionism may develop is through interactions with parents who hold excessively high expectations and engage in high levels of criticism and control. Given the research linking perfectionism to psychopathology, understanding factors that contribute to its development is important. Method: An experimental between subjects design was used to test theorised causal links between parental beliefs, parental behaviour, and perfectionism in young people. Sixty-eight young people (aged 12-14 years) and their mothers completed baseline measures of perfectionism. Participants were randomised into an experimental group, where maternal expectations of their child on two experimental tasks were increased, or into a control group, where expectations were not increased. Dependent variables were maternal criticism, maternal control, and the perfectionistic beliefs and behaviour of young people during the experimental tasks. Results: Mothers in the experimental condition reported greater expectations for their child's performance and displayed higher levels of control. Young people in the experimental group reported higher perceived expectations to perform to a high standard (socially prescribed perfectionism), and more perfectionistic behaviours compared to the control group. There were no differences between groups on maternal criticism or self-orientated perfectionistic beliefs (high standards and self- criticism) reported by young people. Conclusion: The results provide preliminary support for theorised causal links between maternal expectations, maternal control, and socially prescribed perfectionism. The findings did not support theorised links between high maternal expectations and criticism, or between maternal behaviour and self-orientated perfectionism in young people. Whilst replication of findings is essential, the results suggest when working with young people whose perfectionism is causing a clinical problem it may be important to consider parental beliefs and behaviours in the assessment, formulation, and intervention. Future studies should use experimental and longitudinal designs to further investigate causal factors involved in the development of perfectionism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available