Subtypes of Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionism in Anorexia Nervosa: Associations with Eating Disorder and Affective Symptoms

Ann F. Haynos*, Linsey M. Utzinger, Jason M. Lavender, Ross D. Crosby, Li Cao, Carol B. Peterson, Scott J. Crow, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Scott G. Engel, James E. Mitchell, Daniel Le Grange, Andrea B. Goldschmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Perfectionism is hypothesized to contribute to the etiology of anorexia nervosa (AN). However, there is little research regarding whether individuals with AN can be classified according to maladaptive (e.g., evaluative concerns) and adaptive (e.g., high personal standards) facets of perfectionism that predict distinct outcomes and might warrant different intervention approaches. In this study, a latent profile analysis was conducted using data from adults with AN (n = 118). Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Frost et al. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14(5), 449–46, 1990) subscales were used to identify subgroups differing according to endorsed perfectionism features (e.g., adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism). Generalized linear models were used to compare subgroups on eating disorder and affective symptoms measured through questionnaire and ecological momentary assessment. Four subgroups were identified: (a) Low Perfectionism; (b) High Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionism; (c) Moderate Maladaptive Perfectionism; and (d) High Maladaptive Perfectionism. Subgroups differed on overall eating disorder symptoms (p <.001), purging (p =.005), restrictive eating (p <.001), and body checking (p <.001) frequency, depressive (p <.001) and anxiety (p <.001) symptoms, and negative (p =.001) and positive (p <.001) affect. The Low Perfectionism group displayed the most adaptive scores and the Moderate and High Maladaptive Perfectionism groups demonstrated the most elevated clinical symptoms. The High Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionism group demonstrated low affective disturbances, but elevated eating disorder symptoms. Results support the clinical significance of subtyping according to perfectionism dimensions in AN. Research is needed to determine if perfectionism subtyping can enhance individualized treatment targeting in AN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-700
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive perfectionism
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Eating disorder
  • Maladaptive perfectionism


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