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How To Spot a Toxic Perfectionist

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The worst type of perfectionists are toxic to other people.

The worst type of perfectionists are those who expect others to match their own impossibly high standards.

‘Other-focused’ perfectionists tend to be antisocial, narcissistic and have an aggressive sense of humour, a new study finds.

The results come from research which compared the characteristics of three different types of perfectionists:

  1. Self-oriented perfectionists strive for perfection for themselves and set their own high standards.
  2. Socially prescribed perfectionists strive for perfection because it is important to other people.
  3. ‘Other-focused’ perfectionists, though, expect others to be perfect and are extremely critical if they do not meet these high standards.

Both self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionists are highly critical of themselves, but not particularly of other people.

Of the three types, the self-oriented perfectionist gets on best with others.

They tend to care about others’ expectations and needs and prefer the type of humour that enhances relationships.

Socially prescribed perfectionists, however, tend to be low on self-esteem and feel inferior.

They tend to be unemotional and antisocial and mostly focus their humour on belittling themselves.

The other-focused perfectionists, though, have traits of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism, the survey of 229 people found.

Other-focused perfectionists feel they are better than other people and they are quite antisocial.

Their sense of humour is aggressive and tends to make other people feel worse about themselves.

Professor Joachim Stoeber, the study’s author, said:

“Other-oriented perfectionism is a ‘dark’ form of perfectionism positively associated with narcissistic, antisocial and uncaring personality characteristics.”

The study was published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. (Stoeber, 2015).

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