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Perfectionism as a social identity in eating disorders: a qualitative investigation of identity navigation

Version 2 2024-06-04, 05:13
Version 1 2019-01-14, 14:30
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-04, 05:13 authored by A Bouguettaya, Anna KlasAnna Klas, Richard Moulding, Ross King, Tess Knight
Objective Socially prescribed perfectionism is considered an important contributor to eating disorder (ED) development and maintenance. Despite this fact, it is unclear how social groups apply this pressure to be perfect, and how this pressure originates and manifests. Our research sought to clarify how group membership relates to perfectionism in EDs. Method Using a Social Identity Approach to understand how social identities (i.e., identities arising from group membership) relate to perfectionism in EDs, we performed semi‐structured interviews with 10 Australian women (ages: 19–34) in recovery from EDs. Results Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, we found participants suggested personal perfectionism (manifested as self‐control) developed from family standards. Conversely, social perfectionism was a role born from social norms embedded in relevant social groups, and provided definition for perfection. Greater flexibility in defining perfection broadly was reported as important to recovery. Conclusion The results support taking a Social Identity Approach to perfectionism and recovery in EDs. Our research suggests that clinicians should focus on redefining social norms as a potential method to reducing the negative consequences of perfectionism, potentially through the use of group cognitive behavioural therapy to change perfectionism definitions.

History

Journal

Australian psychologist

Volume

54

Pagination

347-357

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

0005-0067

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, The Australian Psychological Society

Issue

4

Publisher

John Wiley & Sons

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