Perfectionism

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Perfectionism is a quest for perfection, or a personality characteristic of striving at perfection. At SuperMemo Guru, perfectionism is presented as a negative aspect of human character, in which the perfect obscures the optimum.

One of the key claims is that perfectionism is often a result of schooling (see: 50 bad habits learned at school). It is born from a quest to be a perfect student (see: Dangers of being a Straight A student).

While optimum learning based on adaptation of concept networks to the surrounding environment is an incremental progression towards an idealized (perfect) goal. Schools notoriously demand a perfect rendition of the presented content with grading used to assess the "degree of perfection". In a concept network, an error in learning serves as a correction, which is often rewarding for its positive impact on the coherence and consistency of knowledge. At school, errors are penalized, and may lead to the emergence of toxic memories.

For those who consistently succeed in navigating the system of penalties at school, the reward of good grades may lead to conditioning perfectionism, which may have a devastating impact on the psychological well-being and overall productivity in life.

This glossary entry is used to explain texts in SuperMemo Guru series on memory, learning, creativity, and problem solving