• Social media urges teenagers to become perfectionists.
  • Youngsters’ expectancies about themselves and others have increased. 
  • Nowadays youngsters’ perfectionism has increased compared to those from previous decades. 
  • Three types of perfectionism. 



Perfectionism is commonly considered as ‘being perfect’ from many people but it doesn’t necessarily have to be precisely such. In Wikipedia, we read that from a psychological perspective:

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

Which is the study and what it took into consideration?

The number of perfectionists is increasing over time. At least, this is what researchers have observed in the study “Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016.”, published in the American Psychological Association which can be freely accessed here in full. 

The research leader Ph.D. Thomas Curran from the University of Bath along with Ph.D. Andrew Hill from the York St John University observed information from about 41600 college students from the US, United Kingdom and Canada. These college students, from 1989 to 2016, completed a test about general differences in perfectionism called Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale MPS. There were 3 categories of perfectionism observed in the study: socially prescribed perfectionism which in other words is people who perceive exaggerated expectation from the other people, self-oriented perfectionism which is an unreasonable ambition for being perfect, and other-oriented perfectionism which is people who put irrational standards for other people.

The findings and considerations.

One of the most provocative facts observed in the study was that college students in our days have higher scores when compared to generations from the late 80s and 90s. The increase of the socially prescribed perfectionism from 1989 to 2016 was 33 percent meanwhile the increase of other-oriented perfectionism was 16 percent. There was also a small increase by 10 percent for the self-oriented perfectionism from 1989 to 2016.

One of the factors which influence the youth to become more perfectionist is social media. It is a fact that before social media, a teenager would have, let’s say, about a maximum of 200 acquaintances and he or she would barely know what 99 percent of them did yesterday. Nowadays, not only teenagers have information about way more than 200 people, but they also know what all of them are doing, what they are eating, how they are dressed, who they are hanging out with etc. This puts teenagers under pressure and increases the chances of being dissatisfied with themselves or their life in general. They will tend to compare themselves with others and try to be perfect so everyone can then admire them but they may also become more self-isolated and less social.

Perfectionism nowadays is manifested in different other ways like the urge to earn money, the very high career goals since the young age, getting that degree in university etc. In conclusion, the research shows us that the expectancy of youngsters for themselves as well for other people has increased from the late 80s until nowadays.