Abstract for: Perfectionism, self-worth and choice.

Perfectionists regularly experience problems when making decisions and with staying committed to their choices (Mallinger, 2009). Perfectionists have unreasonably high standards, towards which they strain compulsively, and measure their self-worth in terms of accomplishment (Burns, 1980; Pyszczynski & Cox, 2004). Since perfectionists measure their self-worth in terms of accomplishment, perfectionists can experience short-term fluctuations in self-worth stability due to self-evaluative emotional reactions to events of accomplishment (Kernis, 2005). The inability to retain choice commitment can leave perfectionists unable to observe the accomplishment that could result from their choice if they had committed to it. Without the needed sense of accomplishment a perfectionist’s self-worth can decrease. This makes perfectionists susceptible to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even suicidal ideation (Burns, 1980; Crocker, 2002; Kernis, 2005; Levine, 2012; Pyszczynski & Cox, 2004; Ramsey & Ramsey, 2002). This paper proposes the use of System Dynamics as a modelling tool to explain the interrelationship of the various mechanisms that are part of the underlying structure which causes perfectionists to be unable to stay committed to their own choices. Furthermore, the dynamic hypothesis and the resulting behavior may help perfectionists to better understand themselves and may aid in the perfectionist’s ability to retain choice commitment.