Perfectionism is often seen as a good quality. Rightly so. It is associated with numerous of benefits: perseverance,  positive emotions, higher life satisfaction, fewer depressions, less self-accusation, more self-confidence, better school results, less anxiety, less procrastination and so on. But this is only true when you don’t worry a lot. Because perfectionism can also have a negative side. In that case, perfectionism is associated with depressive symptoms, anxiety complaints, a negative self-image, loneliness and eating disorders.

There are two groups of perfectionists: healthy and unhealthy perfectionists. The latter group differs from the former because these perfectionists experience a lot of stress because of their worrying thoughts. These are, for example, concerns about mistakes that were made, doubts about certain actions, self-criticism and the fear that they do not meet their own standards and the high expectations of others. Perfectionist are often over-involved and loyal in their work or are extremely skilled in a certain sport. When this is combined with worrying thoughts, the chance of a burnout increases.

Increase in perfectionism

Perfectionism among young people has increased enormously in recent decades. This is partly due to the increased pressure that young people nowadays experience. Expectations are increasing. This means that school results must be good. You must strive for the best in order to get the best possible job later for example.

But let’s not forget about social media. Social media also has a major impact on young people. This online world does not always reflect reality, but it sets a huge bar for the ideal overall picture. Social media shows us  “status, money and beauty” standards regularly. In this way it contribute to the pressure to strive for a perfect a life. Therefore people want to present themselves as nice and pretty as possible online. But this is causing a distorted reflection of the world instead.

In addition, social media also has a direct influence on the self-confidence of many young people. Using apps like Facebook can lower self-confidence in many young people. Young people constantly compare themselves with what they see online. When people compare themselves to these ideal images, it can damage their self-confidence. Research has even shown that this self-confidence is related to the number of likes that young people get on their own posts! This explains, among other things, why young people feel that their (digital) social environment is demanding, that others judge them a lot and that they need to be perfect in order to be appreciated. It is not surprising that we have become more perfectionist.

High pressure

The fact that the social environment is so important to many people nowadays can be seen in the perfectionist behavior to maintain the image of the ‘perfect me’. Perfectionists are motivated to present themselves as “perfect” to manage their self-confidence, to please others or to prevent negative social consequences. For example, they try to judge or hide less good qualities and avoid criticism and rejection. They exaggerate their positive image and camouflage their disadvantages by, for example, keeping an eye on the reactions of others, comparing themselves with others and constantly trying to obtain positive evaluations. The ironic thing is that these perfectionist “tactics” can actually come across as negative to others. As a result, perfectionists will again do their best to avoid that negative assessment. Perfectionists thus live with a constant pressure that is maintained.


Do you recognize perfectionist behavior in yourself? Register what this does to you in the NiceDay app. Create an emotional registration and complete a G-scheme. A G-scheme delves deeper into the Event, Thoughts, Feelings and Behavior. This can provide insight into the influence of your perfectionist behavior!

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Wouter Schippers

Hey, I am Wouter. I'm a NiceDay coach and psychologist. I like to play football and to make electronic music.

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