Perfectionism in early childhood : an investigation of its dimensions, profiles, predictors and outcomes
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The current study examined the structural validity of the Child and Adolescent Perfectionism Scale (CAPS; Flett, Hewitt, Boucher, Davidson, and Munro, 1997) in a sample of first grade children, while also investigating the prevalence and characteristics of perfectionism profiles in the sample. First-grade predictors and third-grade outcomes distinguishing these perfectionism profiles were examined. Using a longitudinal design, multiple sources of data (child, parent, peer and teacher) and a combination of variable and person-centered analyses, this study looked at the risk and protective factors within young children (e.g. acceptance, competence and control-related beliefs) and the social environment that impact the development of adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism. The study sample comprising 149 first-grade children (age 5 - 8 years, M=5.97; 72 females, 77 males; 87.9% African American; 70.7% eligible for free or reduced-fee lunch program) was drawn from a longitudinal study on school-based preventive interventions conducted by the Prevention Intervention Research Center at Johns Hopkins University. Previous attempts to validate the factor structure of the CAPS with children have yielded inconsistent findings (McCreary et al., 2004; O'Connor et al., 2009; Nobel et al., 2012; Bas and Siyez, 2010; Yang et al., 2015), and have so far excluded children as young as those in the current study sample. This study was, therefore, principally exploratory as it investigated various factor models and statistical methods for adequately capturing the construct and typology of perfectionism in early childhood. First, three previously constituted factor models of the CAPS (McCreary et al., 2004; O'Connor et al., 2009; Nobel et al., 2012) were evaluated using confirmatory factor analyses; the McCreary et al. (2004) model was found to be the most promising fit for the data. An exploratory factor analysis was also conducted to determine if a better fitting factor structure would emerge. A 15-item, three-factor solution was generated, the new factors representing Negative Self-Evaluations and Distress (NED), Socially-Imbibed Standards (SIS) and School-Related Standards (SRS). Two separate latent profile analyses were performed to identify profiles of perfectionists in first grade, using the new CAPS factors and then the McCreary et al., factors as class indicators. The three-class solution (comprising Critical/Maladaptive, Non-Critical/Adaptive, and Non-Perfectionists) based on the McCreary et al., factors provided the most parsimonious, theoretically consistent and interpretable classification of early childhood perfectionism. A number of first-grade predictors and third-grade outcomes also offered evidence for the discriminant and convergent validity of the classes. The Non-Critical/Adaptive class was characterized by lower levels of teacher-reported shyness, higher academic achievement and more favorable teaching ratings of educational performance and overall progress in first-grade. The Critical/Maladaptive class had elevated levels of self-reported depression and teacher-rated aggression, inattention, shyness, hyperactivity, impulsivity and peer rejection in the third-grade. In first grade, they received higher teacher-ratings of shyness and peer rejection as compared to Non-Critical/Adaptive Perfectionists, and also reported a greater tendency to attribute their successes to unknown factors outside their personal control. Non-Perfectionists, in comparison, reported lower academic performance, perceived cognitive competence and higher teacher-rated shyness and attention problems in first grade. They received the most favorable teacher ratings of overall classroom behavior in third grade, but had the highest self-reported depression scores among all three classes. These findings have important implications for the early identification and effective management of perfectionism in young children, which are detailed in the discussion chapter.
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