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Multidimensional perfectionism and psychophysiological recovery from work-related stress

Horan, S (2020). Multidimensional perfectionism and psychophysiological recovery from work-related stress. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis presents a programme of research which includes three empirical studies testing the impact of multidimensional perfectionism on psychophysiological recovery from work related stress. Chapter one reviews the research on recovering from work-related stress and makes the case that adequate recovery is crucial for the maintenance of wellbeing. Specifically, the conceptualisation of recovery, the theories and methodologies that underpin recovery research, as well as an examination into the findings on the impact of recovery on employees’ psychological and physical health will be discussed. Chapter two then explores multidimensional perfectionism and its conceptualisation, the methodologies used to study multidimensional perfectionism, the relationship with the dimensions and wellbeing, specifically exploring perfectionism in the workplace and its relationship to recovering from work-related stress.

Chapter 3 presents the first empirical research, which utilised a seven-week longitudinal design to examine the relationship between two higher-order perfectionism dimensions and school teachers’ rate of recovery experienced during a half-term vacation and the rate at which the vacation benefits faded out once work resumed. A sample of 280 school teachers from the United Kingdom and the United States filled in measures of burnout and affective wellbeing on two occasions before the half-term, once during the half-term, and for four consecutive weeks following the half-term. Results for burnout measures over the seven weeks found that both dimensions of perfectionism had no relationship to the rates of recovery or fade out. However, perfectionistic concerns predicted more drastic growth patterns over the seven weeks for affective wellbeing, whereas perfectionistic strivings predicted a more stable trajectory in recovery and vacation fade out.

Chapter 4 includes the second study, which examined the within-person combination of multidimensional perfectionism and the relationship to school teachers’ wellbeing during a working week and during a vacation week. Using the same sample of 280 school teachers, measures of negative and positive affect, as well as burnout, during a working week and during a half-term vacation were explored. The study tested whether the tripartite model of perfectionism or the 2x2 model of perfectionism were the best fit model for the combinations of perfectionism. The 2x2 model of perfectionism was found to be a better fit, and it was found that during the working week, there were significant differences between the subtypes and burnout, positive affect, and negative affect. However, during the vacation week, there was only significant differences between the subtypes of perfectionism and burnout, not affective wellbeing.

Chapter 5 presents the third empirical research, which explored the association between multidimensional perfectionism and psychophysiological recovery in the evening after the working day and during sleep. Specifically, measures of both objective wellbeing, in the form of evening HRV and nocturnal HRV, and subjective wellbeing, in the form of positive and negative affect and subjective sleep quality. The main aim of the research was to test whether worrying and ruminating in the evening moderated the relationships between perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns and the evening wellbeing measures, thus impeding the recovery experiences. A sample of 51 employees wore a heart-rate monitor for roughly 36 hours, which included two evenings and two sleeping periods. Results indicated that both perfectionistic strivings and concerns did not significantly account for the variance in the employees subjective and objective wellbeing in the evening after work. Additionally, worrying and ruminating in the evening did not moderate the relationship between the two dimensions of perfectionism and the measures of wellbeing.

The final chapter includes the general discussion and presents the theoretical and methodological implications of these findings for research into both psychological and physiological recovery from work-related stress, as well as research into multidimensional perfectionism. Practical implications of the research findings, as well as the limitations of the presented research with recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Horan, Shannon_PhD Thesis_Redacted by author and SP (names).pdf]
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