A new report from Bath University and a comprehensive analysis from Psychology Today has revealed more insight into the increase in perfectionism among millennials. Research says the rise in perfectionism among the generation is socially motivated rather than something strictly limited to economic pressures or other contexts.

The researchers noted three types of perfectionism, categorized as follows:

  • Self-oriented perfectionism: you hold unrealistic expectations for yourself
  • Socially prescribed perfectionism: you believe your social context is demanding, others are judging you and you need to be perfect to earn approval
  • Other-imposed perfectionism: you impose unrealistic standards upon other people

The study indicated millennials showed greater signs of socially prescribed perfectionism and other-imposed perfectionism. Contributing factors, the researchers say, might include neoliberalism, which they say promotes a culture of competition-motivated achievement and social media, which makes one more aware and more pursuant of outside evaluations (it also makes our evaluation of others more prevalent).

Self-oriented perfectionism remained stable from generation to generation, which lead the researchers to conclude the increase in the other two modes of perfectionism were a result of cultural differences between generations. Psychology Today summed up the study by concluding: “The cultural influences highlighted in the British research show that your ability to be happy with yourself depends in part, but not entirely, on the happenstance of when you were born.”