Study: Perfectionism in people with high IQ


Schuler (2000) examined the construct of perfectionism in gifted adolescents in a rural school, investigating their perceptions of the environmental influences that contribute to perfectionism and exploring the perceived consequences. The research used a multiple-case design, collecting data from school records, informal documents, physical artifacts, observations, interviews with participants, teachers, counselors, and parents, and the Empowering Gifted Behavior Scale completed by teachers.

The results revealed that 87.5% of gifted students showed perfectionist tendencies, divided into normal perfectionists (58%) and neurotics (29.5%). Normal perfectionists valued order and organization to achieve their “personal best,” influenced by support systems and personal effort. They perceived themselves as responsible and hardworking, attributing success to hard work and the pursuit of perfection.

On the other hand, neurotic perfectionists showed concern about making mistakes, resulting in anxiety. They defined perfectionism as “not making mistakes” and strived to avoid mistakes at all costs. Perceived expectations from others and perceived criticism influenced their concern about error. They sought to please others and feared criticism, working hard to avoid any kind of disapproval.

The study also explored types of perfectionism, including moral, identity, and interpersonal perfectionism. Neurotic perfectionists exhibited moral perfectionism due to their preoccupation with error and inability to forgive themselves and others. This related to identity and interpersonal perfectionism, as they perceived that others saw them as “perfect” and should not feel angry at them.

The consequences of perfectionism affected participants in their interpersonal relationships, school life and future perspectives. Normal perfectionists perceived their relationships as positive, while neurotic perfectionists saw them as unstable due to concerns about parental criticism and expectations. At school, perfectionism influenced the perceived role in the classroom and the desire for intellectual challenges. Most participants did not feel intellectually challenged and preferred to work with colleagues of similar abilities. Regarding the future, all but one envisioned attending higher education and pursuing professional careers, seeing the future as dependent on their perfectionist behaviors.


SCHULER, Patricia A. Perfectionism and gifted adolescents. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 183-196, 2000.

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