Getty Images Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd
Perfectionism does not seem like an AC of a Haracter property that correlates with the problem of drinking. After all, it's hard to imagine a person who's fixated on showing off their best selves if they want to make blackout drunk. However, a new study suggests that certain aspects of perfectionism can affect poor drinking habits.
The study published in the Journal of Research in Personality involved 263 young adults filling out daily questionnaires for 21 days. The questions included perfectionism, emotional states, reasons for alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, including hostilities, risky behavior, neglect of responsibilities and damage to personal relationships.
The researchers wanted to explore the relationship between perfectionism, emotional states and alcohol consumption. "In general, perfectionism is a risk factor for a variety of psychopathologies, particularly anxiety, depression and eating disorders." Sean P. Mackinnon, study author and lecturer at the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences at Dalhousie University, told PsyPost .
And earlier research had shown links between perfectionism and drinking, Mackinnon explains, but the exact connection was not clear. For example, perfectionists tended not to drink much, but when they did, they had more problems – such as dimming, lack of work, and torn conflicts. Mackinnon's study aimed to understand why.
The results showed an aspect of perfectionism associated with alcohol problems. One could imagine perfectionism as the desire to always be seen in the best light. But there is a consistent motivation: never to be seen as imperfect. It's the difference between "I want to be considered perfect" and "I'm scared to be considered imperfect."
To find this motivation, the researchers asked how much the participants agreed with questions like "I was" concerned about making mistakes in public "and" I thought it would be terrible if I made a fool of myself in front of others would. "These engines were indirectly associated with problem drinking because they were associated with a negative mood. Drinking to cope, and drinking to adjust – all this is related to alcohol problems. (At the same time, perfectionist statements such as "I expect to be perfect" showed no such relationship.)
Mackinnon paints the picture: A person who is fixated on hiding their mistakes (real or imaginary) feels negative emotions, what means you are at risk of drinking, coping or drinking to adapt. These motivations then lead to a higher rate of alcohol problems.
That does not explain why perfectionists drink less, but still have more alcohol problems. There are other reservations as well: The study was relatively short, using participants from two places in Canada, and the results suggest a link between perfectionism and problem drinking, but do not establish definitive causality to refine the research. For example, antidepressants could be a factor: perfectionists tend to take them, and they can lower alcohol tolerance.
In the meantime, however, the study offers a sympathetic portrait of perfectionists. After all, they are just ordinary people who feel bad and hope that a few drinks will help while they are still worried that they will be found out.