In A Nutshell

 Thomas Curran is exploring the "plague of perfectionism" among today's youth, a generation whose need for high achievement increasingly appears to promote mental illness, from depression to suicide.

About Thomas

Social and personality psychologist Thomas Curran studies the personality characteristic of perfectionism, how it develops, and its impact on mental health. He is a member of the Centre for Motivation and Health Behavior Change in Bath, UK, the Motivation, Personality, and Well-being research group in York, UK, and is currently an assistant professor in the Department for Health at the University of Bath. His research rose to prominence following a 2017 publication of the first systems-level cohort study to show that perfectionism is on the rise in American, Canadian, and British college students. Since then, he has written and spoken extensively on how we have created societies perfectly calibrated to promote perfectionism, which is contributing to almost epidemic levels of serious mental illness among young people. Thomas is the author of over 30 published papers and has received numerous awards for his scholarship and research.

Learn More

Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016.” Psychological Bulletin. 2017.  

Perfectionism Is Increasing, and That’s Not Good News.” Harvard Business Review. 2018.

Thomas's Recommended Resources

Happily Ever After by Paul Dolan

Perfectionism: A Relational Approach to Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment by Paul L. Hewitt, Gordon L. Flett, and Samuel F. Mikail

Talk Resources

On the link between perfectionism and performance: Harari, D., Swider, B. W., Steed, L. B., & Breidenthal, A. P. (2018). Is perfect good? A meta-analysis of perfectionism in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103, 1121.

On the etiology of perfectionism: Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., Turnbull-Donovan, W., & Mikail, S. F. (1991).The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale: Reliability, validity, and psychometric properties in psychiatric samples. Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 3, 464.

On the rise of perfectionism: Curran, T., & Hill, A. P. (in press). Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. Psychological Bulletin.

On the perniciousness of perfectionism: Limburg, K., Watson, H. J., Hagger, M. S., & Egan, S. J. (2017). The relationship between perfectionism and psychopathology: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73, 1301-1326.

Tackling youth anxiety

Youth anxiety, depression and suicide – An unfortunate headline we see too often.

Today’s youth have a far more complicated path to adulthood than their parents despite all the advantages they have. In our ever more wired and high pressure world, our youth feel less and less connected. Researchers ask “why”, and follow the science to possible answers.

To make change, we must foster our youth’s resiliency, empathy, and sense of empowerment. These speakers discuss why it is critical to help our youth escape the trap of perfectionism, build coping and problem solving skills, learn how to manage stress under pressure, connect with the community, and establish meaningful friendships.

This Playlist highlights the challenges of youth anxiety and brings hope that we have the answers within ourselves and our communities.