Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Marc Karver, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D.


demoralization, socially prescribed perfectionism, standards, suicidality


Perfectionism is highly (Grzegorek, Slaney, Franze, & Rice, 2004; Rice, Ashby, & Gilman, 2011) and increasingly (Curran & Hill, 2017) prevalent. Alarmingly, perfectionism is associated with various concerning correlates and outcomes, including suicide ideation and attempts (e.g. Smith, Sherry, et al., 2018). Whereas it is clear that perfectionism presents as a vulnerability for suicide, very little is known about when its maladaptive features may be particularly activated or by what pathway such a relationship exists. A preliminary, but underdeveloped, area of research suggests a role for negative life events in potentiating the effects of perfectionism, operating under the assumption that such events may approximate the aversive experience of failure (e.g. Dean, Range, & Goggin, 1996). However, this assumption reveals an essential component — that of appraisal — which has been neglected in extant investigations of perfectionism’s contextual effects. Given that appraisals may be more amenable to change than the occurrence of negative life events or the relatively stable trait of perfectionism, it is important to determine the extent to which appraisals may explain the effects of perfectionism, negative life events, and their interaction. The present study tested a model by which perfectionism would increasingly relate to demoralization in the context of negative life events through a pathway of appraising these events as personal failures. This model was partially supported; perfectionism predicted demoralization, but this relationship was not influenced by negative life events. Supplemental analyses indicated support for the mediating role of specific appraisal components. Clinical implications and deirections for future research are reviewed.