The Roles of Perfectionism, Rumination and Exam Stress in the Onset of Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The present study explored perfectionism as a cognitive vulnerability of depression. A group of 135 adolescents, aged between 15 and 16 years old, completed measures of self-oriented and socially-prescribed perfectionism, rumination and depression, three weeks before an important exam period. Symptoms of depression were measured again four weeks later, after the exams had finished but before the results had been shared. A cross-sectional mediation analysis revealed that both self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism could predict depression and that these associations were fully mediated by rumination. After the exams, pupils on average reported an improvement in mood. Socially-prescribed perfectionism was however associated with higher scores of depression at Time 2 compared to their peers, which could not be explained by pre-exam rumination. This study adds to the existing literature suggesting the two types of perfectionism may have different developmental trajectories. Implication and advice for future research and clinical work are discussed.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorPatrick Smith (Supervisor)

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