Classroom Psychology

Dr Cora Sargeant

The Quest for Perfection

While I’m working on a few things in the background including season 2 of the Classroom Psychology podcast I thought I’d draw your attention to the new training on social media and perfectionism in the Training Hub.

The training combines some of the work of Simon Sinek on parenting styles and social media use in adolescence with Mindset theory, Attribution theory, the dyadic model of self esteem, and the Self-regulation model of narcissism. One of the really interesting things that came out of my reading is the possibility of a cycle where young people with their now characteristically low implicit self-esteem can use social media as a tool for admiration seeking to maintain their explicit self-esteem. In so doing young people construct an unrealistic and very positive image of themselves that can be reflected back to them in likes and comments. Of course the upshot of this is that social media ends up exhibiting countless unrealistic representations of people, who appear more successful, emotionally stronger, happier, and more beautiful (not least thanks to filters) than they really are. Young people’s prolific use of social media leads them to see these representations and get an unrealistic sense of what is normal and in comparing themselves to this new norm they find it hard to feel implicitly good about themselves. Of course in order to feel better about themselves they reach for their phone, take a selfie in the perfect position with the perfect light from the perfect angle, add a filter, look as happy as they can, post it online, and wait for the likes to come in. Thus they contribute to the problem for countless other young people who look at this newly posted photo and think ‘If only I was so perfect’.

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