Individual differences in perfectionism predicting effort

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelly L. Harper (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kari Eddington

Abstract: The current study investigated whether individual differences in perfectionism predicted changes in effort across two tasks. Effort is conceptualized as motivational intensity and is measured by autonomic reactivity (Gendolla & Wright, 2009). Past research suggests a possible relationship between two domains of perfectionism (socially prescribed perfectionism [SPP] and self-oriented perfectionism [SOP]) and motivation intensity. On a task that increased in difficulty, it was hypothesized that SPP would interact with the task to predict cardiac variability. People high on SPP would withdraw effort as the task increased in difficulty compared to people low on SPP. In contrast, it was hypothesized that people high on SOP would increase effort as the task increased in difficulty compared to people low on SOP. Furthermore, on an unfixed task with monetary incentives, SPP was hypothesized to predict no change in effort whereas SOP was hypothesized to predict increased effort. Participants (N = 111) completed an attention task with three difficulty levels and an unfixed, incentive task. Multi-level models were used to test whether SPP and SOP interacted with these tasks to explain autonomic variability. Overall, participants showed a negative linear trend of parasympathetic activation and a negative quadratic trend of sympathetic activation as the attention task got more difficult. Furthermore, participants showed both sympathetic and parasympathetic activation during the unfixed, incentive task. Individual differences in perfectionism did not interact with task difficulty or time during the unfixed task to predict cardiac reactivity. These findings draw attention to the importance of physiological measurement of effort. Past research suggests perfectionism predicts performance outcomes, however, the current study suggests this may not be indicative of differences in effort.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Effort, Perfectionism, Psychophysiology
Perfectionism (Personality trait)
Motivation (Psychology) $x Physiological aspects
Heart $x Psychophysiology

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