Are parents responsible for the rise of perfectionism? Comment on Curran and Hill (2019).

In a cross-temporal meta-analysis, Curran and Hill (2019) demonstrated significant increases in college students’ perfectionism over the last 27 years. One possible explanation for this historical trend offered by the authors is that parents became increasingly controlling during the same period. We are critical about this explanation for 2 reasons. First, in the development of their explanation, Curran and Hill do not differentiate clearly between 2 meanings of the concept of parental control, that is, control as structure and control as pressure. This distinction is important because past research found only control as pressure to be implied directly in the development of perfectionism. Second, the few studies on historical changes in parenting available do not point to an increase in controlling parenting (understood as control as pressure), on the contrary. In our view, it is premature to hold parents responsible for the rise of perfectionism. Systematic cohort-sequential studies are needed to directly address the role of parents in historical changes in perfectionism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)