Perfectionism is the attitude of an individual that strives to achieve perfection in everything they do. People with perfectionism tend to outdo themselves and make sure everything is in the best form. As perfectionism strives one to be perfect, it is also taxing on the individual for they are pressured to excel, or to meet standards either imposed by others or oneself. This strive is more a common among students as they tend to excel in academic prevalence in an increasing competitive environment. Though the advantages of having this strive, there too are drawbacks, in particular, the level of social anxiety experienced by one.
There a number of theorists which have discussed the potential role of perfectionism in problems of social anxiety (e.g., Heimberg & Becker, 2002; Schlenker & Leary, 1982), but there has been little investigation done on how perfectionist personality characteristics relate to social anxiety and its consequences. (Laurenti, Bruch & Haase, 2008).
Social anxiety is a disorder where one experiences higher levels of anxiety when engaged in an interaction. As such one may feel fear of being inarticulate, boring, or appearing awkward when interacting with others. According to cognitive theories of social anxiety (e.g., Schlenker & Leary, 1982), reviews on interpersonal situations typically involves two aspects: an estimate of one’s own abilities (i.e., social self-efficacy) and an estimate of what is an acceptable performance in that particular situation (i.e., others’ standards) and, presumably, it is the discrepancy between these two appraisal responses that triggers social avoidance and negative effect (Laurenti et al., 2008).
Thus, this study aims to examine the relationship between perfectionism and the level of social anxiety among university students in University Putra Malaysia. This study will identify the factors which are related to perfectionism and social anxiety. These factors are referred to one’s personal characteristics which include gender, personality, education stream and emotional quotient. Researching the impact of this relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety may lead to the development of an overview about the role of perfectionism in influencing the level of social anxiety among university students therefore in a way, encouraging positive social engagement among them.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Is social anxiety a bad thing? Perhaps no; social anxiety can help us to be more sensitive toward others people feeling and needs which is needed in building relationships. Social anxiety will only become a problem while it is excessive or outside the “norm”. So what are the anxiety symptoms? What causes them to experience social anxiety? To what extent will social anxiety impact one’s relationship with others? This study aims to determine the relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety among UPM students. Specifically, this study identifies factors which are related to perfectionism and social anxiety, i.e. personal characteristics (gender, education stream, personality and emotional quotient).As such we will focus on these several research questions that would guide us for the research content.
How personal characteristic will influence someone perfectionism behavior?
Does personal characteristic cause someone to experience social anxiety?
How perfectionism will influence social anxiety?
1.3 Significance of the study
The purpose of carrying out this study is to mainly determine the relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety level among students studying in UPM. Perfectionism when over done would inevitably cause nervousness or anxiety among students which in the long run will lead to stress or other serious problems such as burnout, depression or many other physiological complications. By studying this symptom among individual especially students, it may help to reduce the negative side effect of perfectionism. The study may also help individuals to cope and handle with perfectionism without adding unwanted anxiety to them.
As we know that perfectionism among general people will cause signs of anxiety and stress, we want to investigate if it affects UPM students and the significance of the effect. As being a perfectionist will make a person very demanding about the standards of work done, this study will measure the amount of anxiety levels experienced by a UPM student. By measuring the anxiety levels, we will be able to understand if it causes extra stress on a UPM student and causes their performance to be affected.
This study will also benefit the other students at the university level in Malaysia as it may be an indicator of how university students react to anxiety when striving to be perfect. It will help to identify the common trend among students and determine if perfectionism leads to over nervousness among students in Malaysia; which in the long run cause their performance to be affected. When perfectionism is identified early or thought correct ways to cope with it, students may be able to avoid being stressed out due to anxiety. This may help to increase the performance of university students without adding unwanted anxiety levels.
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVE:
The present study aims to determine the relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety among UPM students. (Gender, program of student, personality and emotional quotient)
To describe personal characteristics (gender, program of student, personality and emotional quotient) of the students.
To describe student perceived perfectionism.
To describe the social anxiety level of the students.
To determine the relationship between gender and perfectionism.
To compare the difference of perfectionism across student personality.
To determine the relationship between emotional quotient and perfectionism.
To determine the relationship between courses of student and perfectionism.
To determine the relationship between gender and social anxiety.
To compare the difference of students personality across social anxiety.
To determine the relationship between emotional quotient and social anxiety.
To compare the difference of student courses across social anxiety.
The purpose of the present study is to examine how perfectionism influences social anxiety level. Given the preceding theoretical and empirical outcomes that we had collected through the study, a number of hypotheses which reflects the association between perfectionism and social anxiety level are proposed:
There is no significant relationship between gender and perfectionism level
There is no significant difference in perfectionisms across student’s education streams
There is no significant relationship between personality and perfectionism
There is no significant relationship between emotional quotient and perfectionism
There is no significant difference between gender and social anxiety level
There is no significant difference between social anxiety levels across student’s education streams
There is no significant difference between student’s personality and social anxiety level
There is no significant relationship between emotional quotient and social anxiety level
There is no significant relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety level
To have a more clearly illustration of the relationship between perfectionism and social anxiety among university students in UPM, a conceptual framework is prepared above. There are three types of variables in this research which are referred to antecedent variable, independent variable and dependent variable. For the antecedent variable, it includes the personal characteristics whereby gender, education stream, personality and emotional quotient is taken into view. The independent variable refers to perfectionism while the dependent variable refers to the level of social anxiety.
1.6 Definition of terminology
Conceptual definition: Someone who has perfectionism is a person who is not satisfied with anything unless it is completely perfect.
Operational definition: For this study, we used the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS) by Hewitt & Flett (1991) to assess the levels of multidimensional perfectionism in students.
Conceptual definition: It means the interaction between a human and the environment around them that causes the feeling of worrying about something.
Operational definition: The social anxiety level is measured using the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) developed by Mattick & Clarke (1998) which has been used to assess prevalence, severity, and treatment out-comes of social phobia and social anxiety disorders.
Conceptual definition: The sex of a person whether it’s a male or female.
Operational definition: This part of information is obtained from the background questionnaire form which will be filled up by the respondent.
Courses of student
Conceptual definition: The stream of studies of university students whether its science or arts.
Operational definition: The information will be obtained by the questionnaire which will be filled up by the respondent.
Conceptual definition: It refers to the university students’ character in how they behave towards other people.
Operational definition: In this study the scale used to measure the personality is The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator by Briggs (1985).
Conceptual definition: This means the amount or degree of a feeling such as love, hate, or anger and how they control it.
Operational definition: The emotional quotient in this study will be measured using the Emotional-Quotient Inventory which is widely used worldwide.
1.7 Limitation of the study:
It is to be certain that there are some limitations with respect to the present studies that need to be acknowledged. As such the data collection might be possible that it would affect the accuracy of the results. The first limitation relates with the extent to which the findings would manage to generalize beyond the previous studies. The numbers of similar research that relates to our present study is limited. Thus, further empirical or duplication of the studies are needed to enhance the current topic and thus would further support future findings.
Second limitation here would mainly relate to the small sample size and its location. The small sample size would create a possibility of the data collected to be either ending up with particularly good or particularly bad. Consequently, it is difficult to find an established significant relationship from the data collected, as the statistical method used usually requires a bigger sampling to justify that the result did not fully happen by chance alone.
To note, the study will be implemented at UPM, Malaysia. The respondents focused only on university students. Participants may have differed in key ways from non-respondents. Hence, this study limits the ability to generalize the findings and does not represent the population at other places.
The nature of respondents also poses a risk. It is to say that, respondents may tend to answer favorably as they perceived to want to be favorable and not be labeled as “others” or with having a disorder by having higher levels of social anxiety. This would hamper the significance of the result and a certain degree of discretion may be needed.
Besides that, there might be other factors that influence the level of social anxiety besides perfectionism which have not been identified or taken into account in our study. To make it simple, there is the possibility that there are more relevant factors to be considered that would significantly influence the dependant variable which is the level of social anxiety. However, the studies and discussion of these other factors are beyond our scope for the present study. Therefore, it would be ideal that more factors can be encompassed within the research.
Furthermore, the data collection mainly relies on survey-based information in which we believe contains a certain degree of bias. Undeniably, the response rates through this method are much more satisfactory and faster; but it is possible that other relevant methods would generate different outcomes than the survey-based candidates did. The research design also prevents us from achieving better result since the nature of the data being collect, it would be better to include even more time towards the research.
Therefore, it would be best that future research be more convincing if the researchers can relate even more factors into the current study theme.