Perfectionism in Gifted Students
Perfectionism frequently emerges as a concern for parents, educators, and counselors of intellectually gifted students. For those whose achievement is not commensurate with their ability, or for those who indicate psychological distress through stress, anxiety, or depression, the possibility of perfectionism as a contributing factor is frequently explored. Consequently, a considerable body of literature has developed over the past two decades as professionals have attempted to construct a thorough understanding of perfectionism in the gifted population. Theoretical contributions and research studies examining perfectionism in gifted individuals center on four broad themes: development, with a focus on identifying antecedent factors that shape the type, degree, and incidence of perfectionism; typologies, with a focus on understanding different “types” of perfectionism primarily through cluster analyses; incidence, with a focus on determining if perfectionism (and if, what types) may be more prevalent among the gifted than the general population, or within the gifted population depending on cultural group, grade level, gender, or birth order; and outcomes with a focus on understanding how perfectionism may relate to psychological and educational outcomes. The purpose of this chapter is twofold. The first goal is to provide a synthesis and analysis of the current body of literature according to these four themes. A second goal is to outline recommendations for future research that both addresses current gaps in the literature and effectively situates the study of giftedness and perfectionism within the broader context of current perfectionism research.