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May. 27, 2018 | Sunday
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Brock research to examine pressure on teens to be ‘perfect’
Child and Youth Studies Assistant Professor Danielle Sirianni Molnar, seen supervising teens in the Developmental Processes in Health and Well-Being Lab, is recruiting research participants between the ages of 13 and 19 for a new online study. (BROCK UNIVERSITY)

Are you a teen, or the parent of a teen, who feels the need to “do it all?”

Brock University researcher Danielle Sirianni Molnar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, is recruiting participants between the ages of 13 and 19 for the Brock Adolescent and Youth Relationship Study, which will look at how perfectionism is related to health and well-being in adolescents.

“Recent research indicates that one in three adolescents is highly perfectionistic, and that perfectionism is on the rise among young people,” says Molnar, who runs the Developmental Processes in Health and Well-Being Lab at Brock. “Perfectionistic strivings tend to be a more important risk factor for poorer mental health among youth compared to adults.”

These staggering numbers are part of the reason why Molnar, whose previous work on perfectionism has focused on adults, is now turning her attention to teens.

“It’s not uncommon to hear adolescents talk about how they are expected to achieve high grades, hold a job, be actively involved in the school community, play an instrument, be athletic and somehow still have time to have friends,” Molnar says.

Social media only adds to the pressure.

“Not only must an adolescent have time to achieve all of this, but they must also make time to post the pics, so that everyone else can see that they are meeting these impossible expectations,” she says.

Molnar sees an urgent need for research into why this is happening and how to address it —both as a researcher and as a parent.

“I am consistently struck by the rising pressures youth face and how often perfectionistic tendencies are actively promoted as a means to success, despite research showing that this can lead to disastrous outcomes.”

She says adolescence is a “crucial development period” when many psychological disorders begin to develop.

“Given that perfectionism is associated with poorer mental and physical health among adults, it is critical to understand whether perfectionism has similar associations during adolescence.”

Through the study, Molnar hopes to both heighten awareness of how perfectionism affects Canadian youth and make evidence-based recommendations for early prevention and interventions.

Study participants will be asked to complete three online surveys over the course of one year. Participants must have a private email address and be 13 to 19 years old. Anyone under 18 will need parental permission to participate. Research participants are eligible to earn Amazon gift cards and a chance to win an Apple iPad.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Brock Adolescent and Youth Relationship Study should contact the lab at dphwblab@brocku.ca.