What are the personality traits of a perfectionist?

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  • A , Psychology, answered
    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.
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