Research suggests perfectionism and work motivation contribute to workaholism

August 29, 2013

Research from psychologists at the University of Kent suggests that being a perfectionist and highly motivated at work contributes directly to being a workaholic.

Led by Dr Joachim Stoeber, Head of the University's School of Psychology, the research team set out to explore the previously under-researched reasons why some people feel the need to work both excessively and compulsively.

Dr Stoeber and his team researched the links between workaholism and two forms of : self-oriented perfectionism, whereby someone sets exceedingly high standards for themselves, and socially-prescribed perfectionism, whereby someone feels that others have high standards and that acceptance by others is conditional on fulfilling these standards.

Among their findings, they discovered that self-oriented perfectionists showed significantly higher levels of workaholism. This was partly due to this group being motivated by a number of internal and external drivers—such as self-control and rewards—that push them towards workaholism. In contrast, socially-prescribed perfectionists were not likely to become workaholics.

Dr Stoeber said: 'Our findings suggest that self-oriented perfectionism and motivation contribute to workaholism, whereas socially prescribed perfectionism does not.

'Our findings also suggest that workaholism in self-oriented perfectionists is driven by those types of characterized by personal importance and ego involvement as well as being motivated by internal rewards and punishment.'

Explore further: New research into the effects of perfectionistic parenting and its impact on childhood anxieties

More information: The paper, titled 'Perfectionism and workaholism in employees: The role of work motivation' (Joachim Stoeber, Charlotte R. Davis and Jessica Townley) used data from questionnaires completed by 131 employees. It is published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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