Perfectionism, emotion regulation, and the cortisol stress response

J Couns Psychol. 2014 Jan;61(1):110-8. doi: 10.1037/a0034446. Epub 2013 Sep 16.


To provide counseling psychologists with a greater understanding of patterns of personality, stress, and emotion regulation, the present study examined perfectionists' typical emotion regulation patterns and physiological reactivity (salivary cortisol concentration) to a social-evaluative stress experience. An initially large sample (N = 421) completed measures of perfectionism, higher order personality factors, and emotion regulation. A subset of the larger sample (N = 61) completed the Trier Social Stress Test. Latent profile analysis revealed typologies consistent with more and less adaptively perfectionistic groups, as reflected in different stress reactivity and emotion regulation patterns. The results have implications for further understanding the positive and negative effects of perfectionism and physiological reactivity to performance stress among individuals with high performance expectations. In addition, the results may inform counseling psychologists about viable targets for therapeutic interventions for stress and emotion regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone