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Common Traits of a Perfectionist Personality Type

Updated on November 30, 2018
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a natural health and wellness advocate with 20 years' of experience studying and working in the health and supplement industry.

Is perfectionism helpful to you? or is it hindering your ability to reach your fullest potential? Read on to find out!
Is perfectionism helpful to you? or is it hindering your ability to reach your fullest potential? Read on to find out! | Source

Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel compelled to excel? Do you pride yourself on being rational and methodical in your approach to work? Are you hard on yourself or do you never quite live up to your own expectations? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you may have a perfectionist personality type.

Perfectionism Traits at a Glance

Positive Traits
Negative Traits
Approval Seeking
Prone to Depression
High Anxiety

Perfectionist Personality Traits

According to the Enneagram personality type assessment, Perfectionists are fair and objective people who strive to live good lives. They are accurate, thorough and orderly. Perfectionists view themselves as rational and principled, and want others to view them as reliable, responsible and hardworking.

Perfectionists have a strong sense of purpose and high ideals. They like to excel in whatever they do. Perfectionists are extremely detail oriented and methodical. Perfectionists sometimes come across as critical and judgmental. They have a harsh inner critic that sometimes spills over into their relationships with others. Perfectionists may become easily frustrated in group projects if they feel others are not “pulling their weight”.

People with the maladaptive form of this personality type tend to deal with self-esteem issues. They are extremely self-critical and have a need for positive feedback from others to bolster their sense of self-worth. They may become very obsessed with others opinions. Their need to strive for flawlessness, in combination with their extremely self-critical nature can leave them vulnerable to depression and intense anxiety. Sometimes they externalize their personal disappointments by focusing their judgment on those around them. They don't always correct people to “be mean” or harsh, but because they have an inner desire to prevent others from making mistakes or getting hurt.

Enneagram testing is the most detailed assessment of personality characteristics available. For those who truly want to know more about how their mind works, a complete test with explanations is a worthwhile investment. Far more thorough and accurate than any online test.

Psychology of Perfectionism

In psychology, perfectionism is a considered to be a personality disposition. It's characterized by setting extremely high performance standards and a compulsion to strive for flawlessness. In moderate cases, it can be positive, causing people to push hard and achieve great accomplishments. When it becomes exaggerated, it becomes destructive, leading people to strive for unattainable and unrealistic goals. When those goals cannot be met, it leads to reduced self-esteem and depression.

Types of Perfectionism

According to Psychology Today, there are three types of perfectionism: self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed.

  • Self-oriented perfectionists are driven by a need to avoid personal failure. They set rigid standards for themselves that they adhere to at all costs. They are extremely self-critical.

  • Other-oriented perfectionists are judgmental and critical of others. They tend to set unrealistic expectations on their spouses, children, friends, and co-workers.

  • Socially prescribed perfectionists believe that others hold them to higher standards than anyone else and that they can never measure up to the standards set for them.

The Benefits

Not all perfectionism is bad, particularly if it is targeted to one area. For example an elite athlete may be a perfectionist when it comes to training. He/she has the motivation to work out rigorously every day, they learn from their mistakes and actively try to fix them. This form of perfectionism is a generalized form that tends to be focused on one area of life. This can actually be healthy, pushing the individual to work harder and achieve greater goals.

Many people are perfectionists to a degree, those who are career driven for example, might be considered “perfectionist” if they are always striving to perfect their technique. In some careers, it is ideal to have someone who is a bit of a perfectionist. Most people don't want to get on an airline with a half-assed pilot for example.

The Dark Side

When perfectionism takes over numerous aspects of life it becomes problematic. It's impossible to feel joy in a life where you feel you never measure up. Perfectionism can lead to frustration and crippling fears. Some people who are extreme perfectionists never excel at anything. They refuse to try simply because the fear of failure is so great. If you don't try, you can't fail – so there's a certain comfort in mediocrity that can set in.

Extreme perfectionists struggle with acceptance and routinely set themselves up for failure. The ideals they hold in their mind do not match the reality of what is truly possible. It becomes a vicious circle of failure, lowered self-esteem and even depression or feelings of despair.

Are You a Perfectionist?

There are some interesting quizzes online that can help you assess your level of perfectionism and if it is hindering you in life.

The BBC has the multidimensional perfectionism scale questionnaire to help you determine how much of a perfectionist you are. It has 35 questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. The end results compare you with others who have taken the assessment, giving you an idea of where you rank for each category.

The perfectionism test on Queendom is very enlightening. You don't have to register if you don't want to. The testing is thorough and the results are explained very well. Turns out despite my concerns, I have a healthy level of perfectionism :). How about you?

What type of perfectionist are you?

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    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      12 months ago from Midwest

      Glad your found it helpful Dillano Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Dillano Mark 

      12 months ago

      I read this it makes so much sense everything's becoming so clear.

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      2 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for the read and comment challengethestorm

    • challengethestorm profile image

      Alex Hanna 

      2 years ago from Wilmington

      I would almost consider Self-oriented and other-oriented to be close relatives. Often, those who are self-oriented perfectionists will apply that same level of expectation to others, which then starts a vicious cycle. Great piece!

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      5 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you for the great comment Mirage101 much appreciated - glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Mirage101 profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      This hub was very informative because I have dealt with all types of perfectionists. Not only can I relate but this helped me to understand them a little bit deeper and not judge them as harshly either for being the way they are. Thanks!

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks everyone for the great comments. I appreciate them and I'm glad the hub is being enjoyed.

      I agree with you Carly - motherhood had a way of helping me let go some too. It's all about reestablishing priorities :).

    • CarlySullens profile image

      Carly Sullens 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I used to be a perfectionist until I became a mom. Having kids made me loose a grip, in a good way. Now I don't care if my bed is made.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I took the test but i knew i was a perfectionist before taking it, Great article, Interesting...Thank's..

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      This article is a true jewel. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist but only in certain areas -- never friends or my significant other. I think I'm probably harder on myself than anyone else. I seem to pick and choose parts of the profectionist attitude -- and not to any large degree -- perhaps I'm just too lazy! LOL! Best/Sis

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      6 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. Sometimes, when I stand in front of the mirror, I deliberately leave something off or out of place, just to remind myself that I don't have to be perfect. I have been able to focus on the positive traits and let go of some of the negative ones. It has been an uphill climb, but I am much happier as a person and more tolerant of others. Thanks for the reminder!

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      thanks for the great comment :) much appreciated. I am often very hard on myself as well and I tend to get perfectionist streaks when it comes to writing and I keep redoing things over and over. I have to discipline myself to not do that because it definitely cuts into my efficiency lol. Glad you found the hub helpful!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, Christin!

      No doubt in my mind that I'm a perfectionist, and so I'm thankful for this informative hub you wrote and the chart that showcases the pros and cons. I'm used to being hard on myself, but I don't like it when it spills over onto my expectations of others. Thanks for being a social mirror and helping me be more aware of keeping that part of my personality in check...and balance. : )

    • Lizam1 profile image


      6 years ago from Scotland

      Nicely written hub about this personality preference or trait. I have worked with and for people who are on the dark side of this - as well as have friends who are positive perfectionists. I'm not one - but I have "other issues"!

    • JulieStrier profile image


      6 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Funny, I never thought I was a perfectionist, but after reading this I absolutely am. Thanks for enlightening me on this interesting subject. Voted up. :)

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Barbara, I've worked for extreme perfectionists too and I totally understand. You scratch your head sometimes and wonder if the little nitpicky things can truly matter that much to someone. I find I am definitely harder on myself than others. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      6 years ago from USA

      I had a boss that was a perfectionist. To be honest, she drove me crazy. She was so petty about things that weren't important at all. They can be hard to put up with. After reading your article though, I can see I may be a perfectionist that expects to much of myself.

      Good article. I voted it up.


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