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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

The role of perfectionism in body dissatisfaction

Tracey D Wade* and Marika Tiggemann

Author Affiliations

School of Psychology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001 SA, Australia

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Journal of Eating Disorders 2013, 1:2  doi:10.1186/2050-2974-1-2

Published: 22 January 2013



Body dissatisfaction is a robust risk factor for disordered eating and is thought to be especially problematic in the presence of high levels of perfectionism. The aim of the current study was to investigate what types of perfectionism were associated with body dissatisfaction. Participants were 1083 women aged 28 to 40 years, with a mean age of 35 years (SD=2.11). Self-reports on perfectionism (using the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale), weight, height, desired weight, and current and ideal figural stimuli were analysed for the current study. Two measures of body dissatisfaction were utilised: discrepancy between the current and desired weight, and discrepancy between the current and ideal figural stimuli.


Linear regressions controlling for current body mass index (BMI)/current silhouette examined the relationship between desired BMI/silhouette and simultaneous entry of the 6 subscales of the perfectionism measure. A lower desired BMI was associated with higher levels of Concern over Mistakes and Organisation, and a smaller ideal silhouette was associated with higher levels of Concern over Mistakes and Doubt about Actions and Organisation.


These findings confirm the pertinence of different dimensions of perfectionism to body dissatisfaction, and suggest avenues to explore in terms of universal prevention work.