Gordon L. Flett

Canada Research Chair in Personality and Health

Tier 1 - 2003-10-01
York University
Social Sciences and Humanities

416-736-2100 ext. 40240

Research involves

Examining psychological distress, emotional maltreatment, coping responses and postpartum depression within the context of a program linking personality characteristics of perfectionism and stress-related health problems.

Research relevance

The research has important implications for addressing the social determinants of health in health policy.

The Personality of Health

Healthy mind, healthy body. It's an old axiom, confirmed by psychologists and health-care specialists who regularly observe the psychological factors that directly influence the state of our health. But what kind of psychological behaviour is harmful and how exactly does it influence or even trigger health problems?

For Dr. Gordon Flett, personality is the key to many health problems stemming from stress and the inability to cope with stress. He believes that certain aspects of the personality trait of perfectionism can be particularly harmful as an extreme form of behaviour.

Dr. Flett co-developed with Dr. Paul Hewitt, the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, a model reconstruction of both the personal and interpersonal components of perfectionism. Subsequent research efforts based on this model have firmly established that perfectionism has personal and interpersonal components and is associated with various forms of maladjustment, including depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies.

As the Canada Research Chair in Personality and Health, Dr. Flett is further exploring the relationship between perfectionism and psychological disorders, including eating disorders and postpartum depression. He is expanding his research to include the role of perfectionism in the treatment of and recovery from physical illnesses. He is also taking a close look at the role of perfectionists in contributing to stress and distress in their adolescent children, and the transmission of this personality trait from parent to child.