Perfectionism and anxiety: is there a difference between high-ability students and their peers?

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology, Clinical


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Keri J. Brown Kirschman


Giftedness, defined as possessing abilities that fall in the top 10 percent, can be associated with risk factors that lead to perfectionism. High expectations on gifted students may lead to socially-prescribed perfectionism, a type of negative" perfectionism, which is associated with anxiety. The present study examined the relationship between high ability students (members of the University Honors Program, or previously identified as gifted), dimensions of perfectionism, and types of anxiety. Honors/gifted participants were compared with their non-Honors/gifted peers. Eighty-two participants (22 male, 60 female) were recruited; 37 were members of the University Honors Program, and 31 reported having been identified as gifted. Participants completed an anagram task to mimic a stressful classroom situation and their pulses were measured before and after the anagram task as a manipulation check. Participants completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Test Anxiety Inventory, and the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. No relationship was found between Honors program membership and State or Trait anxiety. Non-Honors students reported more test anxiety than Honors student (p = 0.01). No differences were found between the two groups on the dimensions of perfectionism. Likewise, no differences were found when gifted students were compared to non-gifted students on the same measures. Future research is needed to examine the relationship of perfectionism and high-ability, as this study used Honors students and not exclusively gifted students."


Gifted persons Psychology, Perfectionism (Personality trait), Anxiety Testing, Students Psychology, Psychology, Perfectionism, giftedness, state anxiety, trait anxiety, test anxiety, Honors students

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