Students are feeling more pressure than ever to be perfectionists — and social media may be to blame

Posted on January 9th, 2018

A study of Canadian, British and American students found that today’s college graduates feel greater societal pressure to be perfect than previous generations.

One reason could be pressure stemming from popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where the goal is to curate a perfect public image. This leads to social perfectionism — defined as a perceived expectation from others — and is considered the most debilitating form of perfectionism.

Young adults feel they must live up to certain standards based on what they see on social media, which, according to the study, “can intensify one’s own body image concerns and sense of social alienation.”

“These findings suggest that recent generations of college students have higher expectations of themselves and others than previous generations,” said Dr. Thomas Curran, co-author of the study, in a statement. “Today’s young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected and of worth.”

But the rise in perfectionism coincides with a rise in serious mental illness among young people, said Curran. He described the need to be perfect as a “hidden epidemic” that could potentially underpin many of the mental health issues students face, ranging from anxiety to depression.

Culture might also be affecting parents and adding to the rise of perfectionists…


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