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Millennials might be perfectionists, but don’t (just) blame social media

Last week the New York Times reported on a new meta-analysis that found increasing perfectionist tendencies among college students today versus those three decades ago. Perfectionism was 33% higher on college campuses in 2016 than it was in 1989, according to over 41,000 students’ responses to a (nonclinical) instrument called the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale spanning those … Continue reading “Millennials might be perfectionists, but don’t (just) blame social media”

Millennials might be perfectionists, but don’t (just) blame social media
[Photo: Carl Heyerdahl /Unsplash]

Last week the New York Times reported on a new meta-analysis that found increasing perfectionist tendencies among college students today versus those three decades ago. Perfectionism was 33% higher on college campuses in 2016 than it was in 1989, according to over 41,000 students’ responses to a (nonclinical) instrument called the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale spanning those years. A likely culprit researchers identified? Social media.

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While we know “social comparisons” encouraged by platforms like Facebook and Instagram can lead to low self-assessments, it’s probably not fair to just point the finger at social media. As a Times commenter named Terry puts it:

The older generation loves to blame social media and the Internet for everything “wrong” with my generation but, as usual, fails to consider the economic pressure put on millennials . . . Those of us who want to make the kind of money to pay off our student loans and one day (god forbid!) perhaps even buy a house and a car find ourselves entering highly competitive application processes (for jobs in business, finance, tech; for law or med school, etc.)

This study aside, there still isn’t a lot of solid research on millennial behaviors and where they originate. By comparison, there’s ampleand largely grimdata on the economic pressures facing people like Terry.

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About the author

Rich Bellis was previously the Associate Editor of Fast Company's Leadership section.

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