Korean J Med Educ.  2010 Sep;22(3):205-214.

The Effects of Perfectionism on Academic Achievement in Medical Students

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Kangwon National University Hospital, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea. kuleemd@kangwon.ac.kr


The purpose of this study was to explore the differential effects of multi-dimensional perfectionism on academic achievement, depression, engagement, and burnout in medical students. Also, the mediating effects of engagement on perfectionism and academic achievement, as well as the effects of burnout on perfectionism and depression, were examined.
Two hundred eight medical students participated, and 167 students completed questionnaires, including the Frost Multi-dimensional Perfectionism Scale (FMPS), Hewitt & Flett Multi-dimensional Perfectionism Scale (HFMPS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Schaufeli Engagement Scale (SES), and Malslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS). Academic achievement was measured as the grade point average (GPA) of the previous semester. Data were analyzed by correlation analyses, independent t-tests, and Structural Equation Model (SEM) for path analysis.
Adaptive perfectionism (personal standard, self-oriented perfectionism) was associated with GPA (r=0.164, p<0.05; r=0.173, p<0.05) and engagement (r=0.394, p<0.01; r=0.449, p<0.01), and maladaptive perfectionism (parental criticism, concern over mistakes, socially prescribed perfectionism) was associated with depression (r=0.208, p<0.01; r=0.254, p<0.01; r=0.234, p<0.01) and burnout (r=0.218, p<0.01; r=0.236, p<0.01; r=0.280, p<0.01). Engagement had mediating effects on adaptive perfectionism and GPA, and burnout had mediating effects on maladaptive perfectionism and depression. Students who experienced academic failure had lower engagement than those who did not.
This study demonstrates that academic achievement and emotional difficulties such as depression are determined by adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism, respectively, in medical students.


Psychological adaptation; Achievement; Depression; Professional burnout; Medical students
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