RE: Perfectionism May Not Be Optimum

Tugend, A., (2011). “It’s Just Fine to Make Mistakes.” Visited on October 8, 2012:

Experiment: A study was conducted comparing the productive abilities of participants testing high and low in “perfectionism”. The task was to rephrase a passage without interpretation for a panel of judges who were unaware of the status of the participants.

The Outcome: Those rating high in perfectionism were judged to have passages “significantly poorer in quality”. This surprising finding can be attributed to a shortened process of learning in perfectionists, due to fear of failure and the loss of respect should a mistake be found. This isolation from feedback inhibits development. Additionally, the stress of perfectionism can be psychologically detrimental, further inhibiting learning especially in the face of failure.

Interaction Design: For products with a high learning curve, built-in feedback could be considered when the product is not used as designed, and alternately when ideal conditions of usage are met. This would perhaps encourage experimentation and calibrate use.

Interface Design: Friendly tone or customizable interface might also help to attract continued use. This could give perfectionists and non-perfectionists a positive working arena.