Les perfectionnistes inadaptés (PI) rapportent plus de symptomatologie dépressive que les non perfectionnistes. La rumination pourrait être un médiateur de cette relation. Par ailleurs, des études récentes suggèrent d’élargir les recherches à d’autres formes de pensées répétitives et d’en distinguer deux formes, l’une constructive et l’autre non constructive, en fonction des processus qui les sous-tendent et de leurs conséquences. La présente étude évalue la symptomatologie dépressive et les pensées répétitives constructives et non constructives chez 25 perfectionnistes inadaptés et 24 non perfectionnistes. En accord avec nos hypothèses, les perfectionnistes inadaptés rapportent plus de symptomatologie dépressive, plus de pensées répétitives non constructives et moins de pensées répétitives constructives. La structure de covariation des données est compatible avec l’hypothèse selon laquelle les pensées répétitives non constructives sont un médiateur de la relation entre perfectionnisme et symptomatologie dépressive. En revanche, les pensées répétitives constructives ne semblent pas être un médiateur potentiel. Ces résultats soulignent l’importance de développer des interventions psychologiques qui ciblent les pensées répétitives dans la prise en charge du perfectionnisme.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
A large body of research has evidenced that unhealthy perfectionists are more vulnerable to depression. In recent years, there has been increasing studies that have looked for cognitive processes underpinning the relationship between perfectionism and depression. One of the most promising candidates for mediation is rumination. Rumination is triggered by the confrontation to obstacles that impede progress toward personal goals. Such repetitive thinking is considered by many as the core cognitive process underpinning the onset and development of depression. Because perfectionists are characterised by their tendencies to set high, indeed unattainable, personal goals, they are particularly likely to experience depressive rumination triggered by their evaluation of discrepancy between current achievement and the standards they pursue. Available evidence showed that brooding, measured by the Ruminative Response Scale (RRS), a form of depressive rumination clearly unconstructive, and reflexion, also measured by the RRS, a form of depressive rumination whose nature is less clear, are associated with both self-oriented perfectionism (SOP), a healthy dimension of perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism (SPP), an unhealthy dimension of perfectionism. Rumination also seems to mediate the relation between unhealthy perfectionism and depression. The present study makes a novel contribution by clearly distinguishing constructive and unconstructive repetitive thinking, assessed with a new and promising instrument, the Mini Cambridge Exeter Repetitive Thought Scale (Mini-CERTS). This scale distinguishes between two forms of repetitive thinking: the abstract, analytical thinking (AAT) and the concrete, experiential thinking (CET). AAT is an unconstructive form of repetitive thinking characterized by abstract and evaluative thinking about the causes and consequences of one’s mood or condition that tends to be focused on past and future events. By contrast, CET is a constructive form of repetitive thinking characterized by a mode of attention focused on direct experience of the current situation in the present moment, including current feelings, noticing the details of the context and noticing how the ongoing situation is unfolding moment by moment.
In the present study, we aim first to examine whether unhealthy perfectionists show a different pattern of repetitive thinking than non-perfectionists. Second, we want to test whether repetitive thinking accounts for the difference in depression between unhealthy perfectionists and non-perfectionists.
During prescreening, participants filled in the SOP and the SPP sub-scales of the French version of the Hewitt and Flett Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (HMPS). They were selected based to their score on both SOP and SPP. Twenty-five unhealthy perfectionists, i.e. individuals with high SPP and high SOP, and 24non-perfectionists, i.e. individuals with low SPP and low SOP, filled in the French version of the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale and the Mini-CERTS.
Results showed that unhealthy perfectionists reported significantly higher level of AAT [F(1, 47)=36.47, P<0.001, η2=0.43] and lower level of CET [F(1, 47)=11.54, P<0.01, η2=0.19]. These findings are in line with previous studies showing a positive relationship between unhealthy perfectionism and brooding, a form of unconstructive repetitive thinking. In contrast with the equivocal results observed in previous studies, the present data, relying on an alternative measure of repetitive thinking, clearly showed that unhealthy perfectionists report relying less on adaptive forms of repetitive thinking. Congruent with an abundant literature, unhealthy perfectionists reported more depressive symptoms than non-perfectionists [F(1, 47)=9.49, P<0.01, η2=0.15]. Finally, results from bootstrapping yielded a significant mean indirect effect of perfectionism on depressive symptoms through AAT [bootstrap mean=0.03, 95% CI=0.01–0.05]. As expected, the present data statistically supports the notion that AAT is a mediator of the relationship between perfectionism and depressive symptoms. However, given the cross-sectional nature of the present data, other causal pathways cannot be excluded. One could conceive a meditational model in which the direction of the association between depression and AAT would be reversed. In this model, the mean indirect effect of perfectionism on AAT through depressive symptoms is also significant [bootstrap mean=0.69, 95% CI=0.08–1.45]. Longitudinal studies are thus needed to ascertain to direction of the meditational model.
The present study offers a new look on the relationship between perfectionism and repetitive thinking by distinguishing between constructive and unconstructive modes of thinking. The key findings are that unhealthy perfectionists report more unconstructive and less constructive repetitive thinking, and that unconstructive thinking mediates the relationship between perfectionism and depression. Providing replications in longitudinal studies, the present results offer new prevention and intervention perspectives for unhealthy perfectionists, targeting unconstructive repetitive thinking as proposed in the rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Mots clés : Perfectionnistes inadaptés, Pensées répétitives, Processus cognitif, Dépression, Médiation
Keywords : Maladaptive perfectionist, Repetitive thinking, Cognitive process, Depression, Mediation
Vol 22 - N° 2P. 68-74 - juin 2012 Retour au numéro
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