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What Type of Perfectionist are You?

Just when I thought being (or, rather, trying not to be) a perfectionist was already hard enough…..did you know there are now 3 sub-types of perfectionists?

Oh yes.

A new study published by the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment reports in on the evolution of perfectionism, revealing in greater detail what perfectionism looks like when turned on one’s actions, one’s self, and others.

3 Sub-Types:

  • Self-perfectionists. You set high standards for yourself.
  • Socially oriented perfectionists. You think others set high standards for you
  • Other-oriented perfectionists. You set high standards for others.

The first type tends to be the healthiest – if you can use the word “healthy” and the word “perfectionist” in the same sentence. These folks are best able to maintain a healthy balance between self-focus on focus on others, and their sense of humor reflects that.

The second type tends towards self-deprecation, anxiety and depression. These folks do struggle to see others as three-dimensional beings in the midst of their concerns about self.

The third type is the one with the dark side, where perfectionistic standards are turned on others, often in ways the researchers term “the Dark Triad” (narcissism, Machiavellian motives, psychosis). Any interest they may display towards others has a purely self-serving focus.

The researchers are careful to point out that “people can be high on all three subtypes or they can be high on two or just one.”

I don’t find that statement quite so reassuring as I suspect they think it is.

If I had to place myself, I would say I fall somewhere between type one and type two. In the past, I would have said I’m a dead ringer for type two, but over the past few years, with lots of mentoring and intensive work, the self-deprecating tendencies have finally begun to fall away.


Of course (and like most of us I suspect), I don’t think I have even the faintest tinges of type three, but I suspect it would take a far more objective party than myself to determine that for sure!

And these are just three sub-types of an umbrella term that can and does stretch to cover a variety of applications as needed.

Speaking of which, at the end of the study summary post, the author talks about yet another type of perfectionism – the obsessive-compulsive (OCD) type that likes neatness and order.

I also have that. There are no mismatched socks in my household (although there are a few singles still waiting for their partner to come out of hiding).

But I happen to like my OCD perfectionism – it makes me happy to have matched socks, and I have no plans to change that.

As for the rest, I suspect many beings (human and otherwise) have these traits at one level or another – from male birds’ efforts to brighten up their colors to attract the best mate to male polar bears’ habit of offing their own cubs (just in case they were really fathered by a competitor instead).

For this reason, rather than focusing on the terms themselves, I prefer to dig down to the roots (to find the really juicy source culprits) and work up from there!

Today’s Takeaway: Can you see yourself in any of these perfectionistic sub-types? Do you find learning more about personality traits, types, and sub-types helpful to your own continued recovery and/or growth? If so, what do you find most helpful? If not, why do you tend not to seek this information out?

Bulls eye photo available from Shutterstock

What Type of Perfectionist are You?

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2015). What Type of Perfectionist are You?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Jul 2015
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