Barbara F. Okun


Emmanuel J. Mason, Todd R. Kates

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department or Academic Unit

Bouvé College of Health Sciences. Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology.


Perfectionism, Social anxiety, College students, Psychology

Subject Categories

Social phobia--Case studies, Perfectionism (Personality trait)--Case studies, College students--Case studies


Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The relationship between social anxiety and perfectionism was explored among college students. Although a good deal of research has demonstrated a strong interaction between perfectionism and several forms of psychopathology, extending this research to social anxiety has received less attention. The few studies that have studied this relationship have demonstrated some inconsistent results, specifically finding only correlations between social anxiety and two or three of the six dimensions of perfectionism put forth by Frost et al.'s (1994) Multidimensional Perfectionism Questionnaire. Likewise, previous work has involved only adults in anxiety treatment center locations. This study sought to extend these findings to a non-clinical college student population. In investigating a possible relationship, math and physics majors were compared to communication and music majors on social anxiety and perfectionism measures. The study predicted that high social anxiety traits would predict higher perfectionist traits, and that math and physics majors will experience social anxiety more than music and communication majors. Three research questions were proposed: 1) Are college students with anxiety traits more likely to have perfectionist traits than college students who do not have social anxiety traits? 2) Are social anxiety traits more common among math and physics majors than communication and music majors? 3) Are perfectionist traits more common among math and physics majors than communication and music majors? In answering research question 1: A statistically significant correlation was found between Frost's Overall Perfectionism Score and scores from both the Social Phobia Scale and the Social Interaction Anxiety Score across all groups. In answering research question 2, math and physics majors had statistically significant higher social anxiety scores than music majors, but not with communication majors. Communication majors still experienced less social anxiety than math and physics majors. In answering research question 3, perfectionist traits were generally found to be very similar across all four academic majors. In regards to the impact that the four demographic variables (age, race, gender, and residential status) had on social anxiety score, only the age of the student predicted the level of social anxiety, specifically, the older the student, the lower the levels of social anxiety. Implications for future research, policy change, and clinical practice are explored in the discussion section.

Document Type


Rights Information

Copyright 2009

Rights Holder

Daniel Per Villiers

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