A team of researchers at the York St. John University in England suggest “perfectionistic concerns” can lead to stress and burnout, followed by a variety of health problems. The researchers say such concerns can unintentionally impact a person's success at work, school or on the playing field.
During the study, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of the link between burnout and perfectionism by analyzing the research findings of the 43 previous studies conducted in the last two decades. The team analyzed both the positive and negative aspects associated with perfectionism.
The research -- which has been published in the journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology -- describes characteristics associated with two aspects of perfectionism, namely perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns.
In perfectionistic strivings, an individual sets goals and works toward achievement. The study found the sense of achievement associated with perfectionistic strivings help delay the effects of burnout.
On the other hand, perfectionists who constantly worry about letting others down, making a mistake or not standing by expectations exhibit the dark side of perfectionism, called perfectionistic concerns. Researchers said they believe the stress generated by perfectionistic concerns can grow into serious health problems, including fatigue, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
“Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring,” said Andrew Hil, lead researcher and professor. “It also can interfere with relationships and make it difficult to cope with setbacks because every mistake is viewed as a disaster.”
In addition, the researchers found perfectionistic concerns led to more burnouts in the workplace than in sports or education. The team said in sports and education, people have clearly defined goals and more social support, minimizing the negative impact.
The study concluded creating a personality profile tool that can assess perfectionistic concerns can help in identifying and helping individuals who are more likely to burn out.