• anxiety;
  • perfectionism;
  • twins;
  • behavior genetics;
  • etiology



Theory and research suggest that maladaptive perfectionism, specifically, concerns about mistakes (CM) and doubts about actions (DA), may be important etiologic and maintenance mechanisms for anxiety and its disorders. However, no studies speaking directly to the origins of the relationship, i.e. what etiologic factors underlie the phenotypic association between anxiety and maladaptive perfectionism, exist. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by exploring genetic and environmental relationships between anxiety symptoms and maladaptive perfectionism.


The sample consisted of 292 young adult same-sex female twins from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Anxiety symptoms were assessed by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory—Trait version and an anxiety problems scale derived from the Young Adult Self Report. Maladaptive perfectionism was measured using the CM and DA subscales of the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale.


Anxiety and maladaptive perfectionism were both moderately heritable, with estimates ranging from. 45 to .66. Moreover, multivariate analyses revealed that genetic factors were primarily responsible for associations between anxiety and maladaptive perfectionism (rg=.59–.88).


This is the first study to demonstrate the role of genetic factors in the relationship between anxiety and maladaptive perfectionism. Future studies are needed to uncover the specific biologic and genetic factors that contribute to this relationship and to evaluate whether maladaptive perfectionism represents an intermediate trait or risk factor for anxiety.