What are the personality traits of a perfectionist?
Alice Domar
Canadian researchers Gordon L. Flett and Paul L. Hewitt have found that some of the following tendencies crop up among perfectionists:
  • Expecting people and situations to have no flaws or faults. There are three types of perfectionists: People who expect perfection of themselves, people who demand perfection from others, and people who think others expect perfection from them.
  • Getting “stuck” on tasks. Doubt and concern over mistakes can trigger procrastination.
  • Having perfection-oriented automatic thoughts. Even when they don’t realize it, perfectionists tell themselves that they have to be perfect.
  • Having a hyperawareness of imperfection. Perfectionists notice and dwell on every flaw.
  • Feeling shame and guilt. When a perfectionist makes a mistake, she feels ashamed of what others think and guilty because of her own unacceptable performance.
  • Making mountains out of molehills. For a perfectionist, a minor setback carries more importance than it deserves.
  • Setting rigid standards. A perfectionist sets unreasonably high expectations; success is black and white -- either you’re a complete success or a complete failure.
  • Expecting the impossible. Perfectionists feel they should excel in every area -- even those in which they have no training or experience or that are not important.
  • Making all-or-nothing judgments. If a perfectionist can’t do something well, she may write it off as being worthless.
  • Overstating what’s at stake. Perfectionists convince themselves that the world hangs on every decision and action.
  • Overreacting. Perfectionists tend to cope with problems in an overemotional, reactive way rather than facing them head-on with problem-focused, task-oriented strategies.
Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Worry Less and Enjoy Life More

More About this Book

Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Worry Less and Enjoy Life More

Do you have trouble going to bed at night when there’s a mess in the kitchen? Do you think you would be happier if only you could lose weight, be a better parent, work smarter, reduce stress,...

Continue Learning about Personality


When we have a sense of self that allows us to interact appropriate with the world and other people we have a functional personality. Some forms of mental illness can skew the thought process so it interferes with how we deal with ...

others. People with personality disorders may abuse drugs, may have lots of ups and downs in relationships, may have trouble making friends, may be isolated. There are many different kinds of disorders, but its important to know that it is possible to overcome them.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.