Developmental origins of perfectionism among african american youth

Keith C. Herman, Reid Trotter, Wendy M. Reinke, Nicholas Ialongo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study used a person-centered latent variable approach to classify types of perfectionism among 6th-grade African American children living in an urban setting. In particular, the authors were interested in determining whether an adaptive subtype could be found and validated against external criteria. The authors also attempted to identify any developmental precursors that could reliably differentiate the perfectionist subtypes. A social learning and competence framework was used to select potential 1st-grade risk and protective factors for future perfectionism profiles. Four classes best described the children's perfectionism scores in 6th grade. Three of these classes resembled the profiles most commonly seen in prior perfectionism research (Non-Critical/Adaptive, Critical/Maladaptive, and Non-Perfectionist). The fourth class, Non-Striving, was characterized by extremely low levels of reported personal standards. Sixth-grade correlates confirmed the distinctiveness of these classes. In particular, the Critical/Maladaptive and Non-Striving classes had higher rates of internalizing symptoms and disorders. Additionally, several 1st-grade predictors suggested unique developmental origins of these classes. The Critical/Maladaptive class was characterized by lower academic skills and elevated teacher-rated attention problems, hyperactivity, shyness, and peer rejection. The Non-Striving class had higher rates of family alcohol problems and lower levels of parent praise. Implications regarding the universal and culture-specific origins and effects of perfectionism are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Adaptive
  • African american
  • Children
  • Maladaptive
  • Perfectionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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