Automatic Self Recriminations and Perfectionism

Automatic self recriminations place an important role in perfectionism. Persons with perfectionistic traits usually experience internal dialogues in the form of elf-condemnatory, self-blaming spiraling.

In a new article published on the Journal of Personality Assessment, we present a new measure to assess this kind of internal dialogue. The new Automatic Self-Recrimination Scale (ASRS) has been tested in clinical and nonclinical sample showing it is best understood as a multidimensional measure.

Our findings highlight that the measure is composed of one higher-order factor and four lower-order facets: Not Mattering, Self as Failure, Undeserving Self, and Loathsomeness. The overall scale and four subscales demonstrated acceptable internal consistency and test-retest reliability.

Moreover, we show how Automatic Self-Recrimination Scale significantly correlates with measures of perfectionism, self-criticism, and dysfunctional attitudes. In short, we confirm how automatic self recriminations and perfectionism are two intertwined experiences.

Indeed perfectionism involves self-recrimination and an overgeneralized sense of the self as blameworthy and responsible that distinguishes it from other related constructs. Automatic self-recriminations are a unique and important element not only for research purposes but also as a key emphasis for clinical interventions.

As I have discussed elsewhere, Compassion Focused Therapy may cultivate – for example – a more compassionate self by promoting a healthier dialogue between parts of the self and starts with a focus on self-criticism. That is, if the goal is to help people with perfectionistic traits, an intervention that helps them reduce self-recriminations and increase a self-compassionate attitude is probably an effective choice.

Moreover, it is noteworthy how self recriminations (and interventions targeting these processes) are not only related to perfectionism. We have shown how they are pivotal – for example – in traits such as schizotypal ones.

Paul L. Hewitt, Sabrina Ge, Martin M. Smith, Gordon L. Flett, Simone Cheli, Danielle S. Molnar, Ariel Ko, Samuel F. Mikail & Thalia Lang (2024) Automatic Self Recriminations: Development and Validation of a Measure of Self-Condemnatory Internal Dialogue, Journal of Personality Assessment, DOI: 10.1080/00223891.2024.2303429