Advertisement

Perfectionism, Distress, and Irrational Beliefs in High School Students: Analyses with an Abbreviated Survey of Personal Beliefs for Adolescents

  • Gordon L. Flett
  • Paul L. Hewitt
  • Wing Man Winnie Cheng
Original Article

Abstract

The current study examined the associations between dimensions of perfectionism and irrational beliefs in an adolescent sample. In addition, we tested the association between psychological distress and irrational beliefs in adolescents and we evaluated the feasibility of creating a modified version of the Survey of Personal Beliefs for use with adolescents. A sample of 250 adolescents (108 males, 142 females) completed the Child-Adolescent Perfectionism Scale, the Survey of Personal Beliefs, and the CES-D Depression Scale. Initial psychometric analyses yielded an abbreviated 30-item Survey of Personal Beliefs with adequate internal consistency for four of the five subscales. Our results showed that self-oriented perfectionism was associated significantly with all five irrational belief subscales, while the associations between socially prescribed perfectionism and irrational belief subscales were much smaller in magnitude. Self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism, and irrational beliefs were all associated significantly with elevated distress among adolescents, and irrational beliefs predicted unique variance in distress, over and above the variance attributable to the trait perfectionism dimensions. The findings confirmed the association between perfectionism and irrational beliefs and their respective roles in psychological distress among adolescents.

Keywords

Perfectionism Irrational beliefs Depression Adolescents 

Notes

Acknowledgment

This research was supported, in part, by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to the authors. Gordon Flett was supported by a Canada Research Chair in Personality and Health.

References

  1. Allen, L. A. (2000). Short-term therapy for somatization disorder: A cognitive behavioral approach. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 14, 373–380.Google Scholar
  2. Bernard, M. E., Ellis, A., & Terjersen, M. (2006). Rational emotive behavioral approaches to childhood disorders: History, theory, practice, and research. In M. Bernard & A. Ellis (Eds.), Rational emotive behavioral approaches to childhood disorders: Theory, practice, and research (pp. 3–84). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boergers, J., Spirito, A., & Donaldson, D. (1998). Reasons for adolescent suicide attempts: Associations with psychological functioning. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 1287–1293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Calvete, E., & Cardenoso, O. (2005). Gender differences in cognitive vulnerability to depression and behavior problems in adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 179–192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Castro, J., Gila, A., Gual, P., Lahortiga, F., Saura, B., & Toro, J. (2004). Perfectionism dimensions in children and adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35, 392–398.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang, E. C., & Bridewell, W. B. (1998). Irrational beliefs, optimism, pessimism, and psychological distress: A preliminary examination of differential effects in a college population. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54, 137–142.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ciarrochi, J. (2004). Relationships between dysfunctional beliefs and positive and negative indices of well-being: A critical evaluation of the Common Beliefs Survey-III. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 22, 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Demaria, T. P., Kassinove, H., & Dill, C. A. (1989). Psychometric properties of the Survey of Personal Beliefs: A rational-emotive measure of irrational thinking. Journal of Personality Assessment, 53, 329–341.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DiBartolo, P., Frost, R. O., Peicha, C., LaSota, M., & Grills, A. E. (2004). Shedding light on the relationship between personal standards and psychopathology: The case for contingent self-worth. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 22, 241–254.Google Scholar
  11. Dick, R. W., Beals, J., Keane, E. M., & Manson, S. M. (1994). Factorial structure of the CES-D among American Indian adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 17, 73–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Einstein, D. A., Lovibond, P. F., & Gaston, J. E. (2000). Relationship between perfectionism and emotional symptoms in an adolescent sample. Australian Journal of Psychology, 52, 89–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ellis, A. (1962). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. New York: Lyle Stuart.Google Scholar
  14. Ellis, A. (1987). A sadly neglected cognitive element in depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ellis, A. (2002). Perfectionism and irrational beliefs. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 217–229). Washington: American Psychological Association Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2002). Perfectionism and maladjustment: Theoretical, definitional, and treatment issues. In G. L. Flett & P. L. Hewitt (Eds.), Perfectionism: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 5–31). Washington: American Psychological Association Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Gray, L. (1998). Psychological distress and the frequency of perfectionistic thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1363–1381.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Boucher, D. J., Davidson, L. A., & Munro, Y. (1997). The Child-Adolescent Perfectionism Scale: Development, validation, and association with adjustment. Unpublished manuscript, York University, Toronto.Google Scholar
  19. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Koledin, S. (1991). Dimensions of perfectionism and irrational thinking. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 9, 185–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hankin, B. J., Roberts, J., & Gotlib, I. H. (1997). Elevated self-standards and emotional distress during adolescence: Emotional specificity and gender differences. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21, 663–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hewitt, P. L., Caelian, C. F., Flett, G. L., Sherry, S. B., Collins, L., & Flynn, C. A. (2002). Perfectionism in children: Associations with depression, anxiety, and anger. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 1049–1061.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1990). Perfectionism and depression: A multidimensional analysis. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5, 423–438.Google Scholar
  23. Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (1991). Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: Conceptualization, assessment, and association with psychopathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 456–470.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hewitt, P. L., Newton, J., Flett, G. L., & Callander, L. (1997). Perfectionism and suicide ideation in adolescent psychiatric patients. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25, 95–101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jones, R. G. (1969). A factored measure of Ellis’s irrational beliefs system, with personality and maladjustment correlates. Dissertation Abstracts International, 29.Google Scholar
  26. Kauth, M. R., & Zettle, R. D. (1990). Validation of depression measures in adolescent populations. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 46, 291–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kassinove, H. (1986). Self-reported affect and core irrational thinking: A preliminary analysis. Journal of Rational-Emotive Therapy, 4, 119–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kassinove, H., & Eckhardt, C. I. (1994). Irrational beliefs and self-reported affect in Russia and America. Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marcotte, D. (1996). Irrational beliefs and depression in adolescence. Adolescence, 31, 935–954.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Martin, R. C., & Dahlen, E. R. (2004). Irrational beliefs and the experience and expression of anger. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 22, 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muran, J. C., Kassinove, H., Ross, H., & Muran, E. (1989). Irrational thinking and negative emotionality in college students and applicants for mental health services. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45, 188–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nottingham, E. (1992). Use of the Survey of Personal Beliefs Scale: Further validation of a measure of irrational beliefs. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 10, 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Radloff, L. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roberts, R. E., Andrews, J. A., Lewinsohn, P. M., & Hops, H. (1990). Assessment of depression in adolescents using the Center For Epidemiologic Studies in Depression Scale. Psychological Assessment, 2, 122–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sorotzkin, B. (1998). Understanding and treating perfectionism in religious adolescents. Psychotherapy, 35, 87–95.Google Scholar
  36. Steel, H. R., Möller, A. T., Cardenas, G., & Smith, P. N. (2006). The Survey of Personal Beliefs: Comparison of South African, Mexican, and American samples. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 24, 125–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Watson, P. J., & Culhane, S. E. (2005). Irrational beliefs and social constructionism: Correlations with attitudes about reality, beliefs about people, and collective self-esteem. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 23, 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon L. Flett
    • 1
  • Paul L. Hewitt
    • 2
  • Wing Man Winnie Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations