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Developmental Trajectories of Maladaptive Perfectionism Among African American Adolescents


  • Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by grants independently and jointly funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH5705, MH086043, MH066247) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA17796) awarded to Nicholas Ialongo. Keith C. Herman, Kenneth Wang, and Wendy M. Reinke are from the Department of Educational, School, & Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri. Reid Trotter is with the Counseling Center at Colorado State University. Nicholas Ialongo is with the Department of Mental Health, School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Keith C. Herman, Department of Educational, School, & Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri–Columbia, 16 Hill Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined the developmental trajectories of maladaptive perfectionism over a 7-year period among African American youth living in an urban setting (= 547). In particular, the study attempted to determine whether two maladaptive aspects of perfectionism (socially prescribed and self-critical) changed over time and could be distinguished by variables in 6th and 12th grades (Mage at study entry [first grade] was 6.22 years [SD = 0.34]). Four classes best described the developmental trajectories on both measures of maladaptive perfectionism: high, low, increasing, and decreasing. Sixth- and 12th-grade correlates, including measures of internalizing symptoms, mostly confirmed the distinctiveness of these classes. Parallel process analyses suggested that the two processes are complementary, yet distinct. Implications regarding the prevention of maladaptive perfectionism are discussed.

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