Are perfectionism dimensions risk factors for anxiety symptoms? A meta-analysis of 11 longitudinal studies

Anxiety Stress Coping. 2018 Jan;31(1):4-20. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2017.1384466. Epub 2017 Oct 5.


Background: Over 50 years of theory and research implicates perfectionism in anxiety. However, it is unclear which (if any) perfectionism dimensions are risk factors for anxiety.

Objective: To address this, we conducted a meta-analysis testing whether socially prescribed perfectionism, concern over mistakes, doubts about actions, self-oriented perfectionism, and personal standards predict increases in anxiety.

Method: Our literature search yielded 11 relevant studies for inclusion, composed of children, adolescents, undergraduates, community adults, and psychiatric patients.

Results: Meta-analysis using random-effects models revealed concern over mistakes (r+ = .11), doubts about actions (r+ = .13), and personal standards (r+ = .08), but not socially prescribed perfectionism or self-oriented perfectionism, displayed significant small positive relationships with follow-up anxiety, after controlling for baseline anxiety.

Conclusion: Research is needed to understand the conditions under which the connection between perfectionism and anxiety becomes stronger (e.g., stress).

Keywords: Perfectionism; anxiety; longitudinal; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Perfectionism*
  • Risk Factors