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Is Perfectionism Genetic?

Where does such perfectionism come from? It can either cripple a person, as they strive to reach unattainable goals, or it can cause them to triumph.

Psychologists blame parents who overemphasize achievement or make love conditional upon meeting certain goals. But recent research suggests that genes have a lot to do with it.

In a study of almost 300 twins, identical twins had much more similar scores on measures of perfectionism and anxiety then fraternal twins did. Identical twins share 100% of their genes, while fraternal twins share 50%. In the October 30th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Melinda Beck quotes psychologist Jason Moser as saying, "This suggests that there is a significant biological component that we need to understand more."

But most psychologists still blame the parents. Beck quotes psychologist Tom Greenspon as saying, "Somewhere along the line, you got the message that you are not good enough--which doesn't necessarily mean what your parents intended." He gives the example of a kid who got 780 on his SATs, only to hear his mother say, "What happened to the other 20 points?"

If your boss criticizes your work as sloppy, you can tell them that perfection is not always a state to be desired. Beck quotes Greenspon as saying, "Our research shows that successful perfectionists are successful in spite of it, not because of it. If you worrying more about how you are doing than what you are doing, you'll stumble."

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