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Anxiety Stress Coping. 2011 Oct;24(5):477-97. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2011.562977. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.


Differentiating perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns, the present study examined how perfectionism predicts what coping strategies people use, when dealing with failures, and how perfectionism and coping influence people's satisfaction. A sample of 149 students completed daily reports for 3-14 days, reporting the most bothersome failure they experienced during the day, what strategies they used to cope with the failure, and how satisfied they felt at the end of the day. Multilevel regression analyses showed that perfectionistic concerns predicted more frequent use of self-blame, less frequent use of active coping and acceptance, and higher satisfaction at the end of the day, whereas perfectionistic strivings predicted less frequent use of self-blame and higher satisfaction. Although positive reframing, acceptance, and humor predicted higher satisfaction for all students, further analyses showed that positive reframing coping was particularly helpful for students high in perfectionistic concern. The findings suggest that accommodative coping strategies are generally helpful in dealing with personal failures, with positive reframing being a coping strategy that works particularly well for people high in perfectionistic concerns (who are prone to dissatisfaction) to achieve higher satisfaction at the end of the day.

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