Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Philip Wong

Committee Chair and Members

Philip Wong, Chair

Sara Haden

Joan Duncan


Emotion regulation, Failure, Perfectionism, Shame, Success


The aim of the present study was to understand the role of shame as it relates to distinguishing adaptive from maladaptive perfectionism in the ability to modulate emotions effectively. A sample of 200 participants ages 18 and older completed online self-report measures related to perfectionism, emotion regulation, and self-conscious affects, along with a stressful task, the PASAT-C. Results showed that shame can explain the relationship between perfectionistic concerns (often labeled as maladaptive perfectionism) and both effective and ineffective emotion regulation strategies. They also showed that shame can explain the relationship between perfectionistic strivings (often labeled as adaptive perfectionism) and ineffective emotion regulation strategies. These findings contradict the idea that perfectionism can be neatly divided into a maladaptive and adaptive binary. The results suggest that while shame is a negative affective experience and can have negative consequences, it may have positive consequences in certain forms and intensity levels once it crosses a certain threshold of intensity. Acknowledging one’s feelings of shame may also contribute to shame’s utility in promoting effective emotion regulation strategies in perfectionists. Limitations of the study, along with future directions are discussed in order to deepen understanding related to the concepts of perfectionism, shame and emotion regulation.

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