Overpowering restriction: Power reduces restriction among self-critical perfectionists

Jonathan W. Kunstman*, April R. Smith, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Research finds that self-oriented perfectionism is a risk-factor for disordered eating. Failing to achieve extreme standards leads perfectionists to feel a lack of personal control. To regain a sense of control, some self-oriented perfectionists turn to dietary restriction. The present study used experimental methods to test the hypothesis that power, operationalized as situational resource control, might increase consumption among those high in self-oriented perfectionism. Ninetysix women (who met at least one criterion for anorexia nervosa), completed a lab study in which they were randomly assigned to either a power or control condition. In the power condition, participants expected to have power over an ostensible partner. In the control condition, participants expected to work as equals. Under the guise of a taste-test cover story, participants then had the opportunity to consume a liquid test meal, which was weighed and served as the study's central dependent measure. Individual differences in perfectionism were measured with self-report questionnaires. Consistent with hypotheses, among those high in selforiented perfectionism, situational power increased caloric consumption. These results suggest that the psychological experience of power may be a protective factor for those at-risk for developing maladaptive patterns of eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-652
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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