Perfectionism and the Disclosure of Distress

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Perfectionistic concerns about the discrepancy between one's standards and performance are associated with several problematic interpersonal and emotional outcomes. The degree to which discrepancy as a form of perfectionism, as well as personal standards as a form of perfectionism, relate to one's willingness to talk about one's distress to others have been underexplored. Our study examined the association between perfectionism and distress disclosure tendencies and also anticipated disclosure in response to several stressful, hypothetical events. College students (N = 325) completed measures via an online survey. Regression analyses revealed that discrepancy (but not personal standards) was negatively related to distress disclosure tendencies. Multilevel modeling indicated that discrepancy was associated with lower anticipated disclosure of negative, hypothetical events, but discrepancy did not interact with the intensity of the event. This research provides novel findings concerning the association between discrepancy and emotional disclosure, and it suggests that personal standards has a minimal role in the disclosure of distress.


This article was originally published as Kahn, J. H., Woodrum, J. L., Marsh, E. M., Bopp, M. R., Taylor, D. A., & Cox, D. W. (2021). Perfectionism and the disclosure of distress. Personality and Individual Differences, 168, 110337.