Student performance matters. Students who perform well have better health, earn a larger income and contribute more to society than those who perform poorly.
As a consequence, psychologists, teachers and even parents have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to understand what makes or breaks success. Personality factors that explain how people differ may be extremely important in this regard. One prominent trait that has long been tied to performance is perfectionism. Perfectionists place irrational significance on achieving their excessive standards, struggle with failure and criticism, and may feel the need to be the best at everything they do.
In a new study of nearly 10 000 students aged 12-21, I found that perfectionism predicted better academic achievement. Perfectionists outperformed their non-perfectionist counterparts in exams, received better grades and had higher grade-point averages. This greater performance persisted through school, college and university.
Not only may perfectionism increase performance, recent evidence suggests that the number of students considered perfectionists is increasing – and has been rising for the last three decades.
The high price of perfect