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Perfectionist? Blame your genes

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the paltrows afp

AFP

This 1999 file photo shows US actress Gwyneth Paltrow. left, with her father director Bruce Paltrow and mother actress Blythe Danne. Gwyneth says she is a perfectionist. Her parents are also likely to have been perfectionists judging by their success.

London - If you’re always striving to reach impossible standards your parents are probably to blame.

The pursuit of perfection runs in families and is determined by your genes, claim scientists.

A study suggests that rather than becoming perfectionists, people are born to it.

Researchers at Michigan State University made the link by studying the twin registry and comparing the personalities of identical and non-identical female twins aged 12 to 22.

Identical twins have the same genetic make-up so if a personality trait is determined by nurture alone, they should be just as likely as non-identical twins to share it.

However, the study in the Depression and Anxiety journal, found identical twins had much closer scores on measures of perfectionism and anxiety than non-identical twins.

This indicated that perfectionism is determined more by nature than nurture and can be attributed to a person’s parents.

Gwyneth Paltrow is one famous actress who has confessed to being a perfectionist.

She said: “One of my most negative qualities is the perfectionism that I have. I think that I unconsciously project that because it comes from self-doubt and insecurity and that’s the ironic part.

“I’m so deeply flawed. I’m just a normal mother with the same struggles as any other mother who’s trying to do everything at once and trying to be a wife and maintain a relationship.”

Her parents Bruce, a television and film producer, and Blythe Danner, an actress, are also likely to have been perfectionists judging by their success.

Emma Watson, a successful actress who also did well academically, admitted she was a “perfectionist” - a trait no doubt shared by her successful lawyer parents.

She said: “I’m not a worrier, but I’m a perfectionist. The thing is feeling like I didn’t do the best job I could have.

“I will always be able to find something wrong, something I can do better. My parents say I’m always looking ahead, thinking about what’s in front of me.”

Mary Berry, a judge on The Great British Bake Off and a bestselling writer of more than 70 cookery books, said that her daughter had inherited her perfectionism.

“I strive for excellence in the Bake Off without any doubt,” she said. “I think I used to be even more of a perfectionist. But if I’m laying a table, even for supper, I want it to look special. My standards are high.

“I feel I’ve done my job properly if it is done well. If I open a kitchen drawer, I want everything to be methodical and tidy.”

She said her daughter Annabel, with whom she launched a range of sauces and dressings in 1994, had inherited her pursuit of perfection.

Victoria Pendleton, winner of two Olympic cycling gold medals, often describes herself as a perfectionist like her father Max, a former national grass track cycling champion.

Andy Murray’s dedication to perfection, which helped him win the US Open and an Olympic gold medal, is comparable to his mother Judy’s determination.

Mrs Murray, a former professional player and coach, still irons her son’s shirts and once jumped on a plane to take him the correct shoes.

Dr Jason Moser, who led the study, said: “We found there is a strong genetic component to perfectionism and the association between perfectionism and anxiety.

“There is also a significant contribution from the unique environment of the individual outside the home.

“But we didn’t find evidence that the shared home environment had much to do with perfectionism.”

The study showed that a lack of perfectionism - being slapdash or impulsive - also has a strong genetic component.

A second study of 340 twins, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, looked at the extent to which girls and women accepted the idea that thin bodies were more attractive.

It found that identical twins were more alike than non-identical twins in how much they idolised the bodies of skinny celebrities - a sign that they are also more likely to be perfectionists. - Daily Mail

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