Perfectionistic Cognitions Inventory (PCI)


The Perfectionistic Cognitions Inventory (PCI) is a 25-item self-report inventory that measures automatic thoughts related to perfectionism. Items on the PCI reflect direct thoughts related to perfectionism and the individual’s awareness of their perfectionism. Compared to other measures of perfectionism the PCI measures state perfectionism by exploring the frequency of thoughts over the last week. It is appropriate for people 15 years and over.

Research has found that high levels of perfectionism cognitions are associated with higher levels of psychological distress (Flett et al., 1998; Flett et al., 2007)

The PCI was developed by Flett and colleagues (1998). During the validation study the scale was administered to 747 university students and results indicated high internal consistency and found that the scale accounted for unique variance in psychological distress. Additionally, Flett and colleagues (2007) found that the PCI accounted for unique variance in depression and anxiety in a clinical sample of 258 psychiatric patients.

Normative data for community and clinical samples exist for the PCI (The University of British Columbia). The community sample was broken down into ages with individuals aged 18 – 25 (N = 205) having a mean score of 42.15 (18.39) and individuals aged 26 – 45 having a mean score of 36.30 (18.35). The clinical sample of psychiatric patients (N = 1045) had a mean score of 44.89 (23.71).

Items are summed to obtain a total score. Higher scores indicate increased perfectionism cognitions.

Percentiles are presented to indicate how the PCI scores compare to the community and clinical sample (The University of British Columbia). A percentile of approximately 50 compared to the Community sample represents average (healthy) levels of perfectionism, and scores above, for example, the 85th percentile represent clinically significant perfectionism. The clinical percentile represents how this individual scores compared to psychiatric patients. Given individuals in psychiatric care tend to be slightly more perfectionistic, the psychiatric percentile will be slightly lower than the community percentile.

Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Gray, L. (1998). Psychological distress and the frequency of perfectionistic thinking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75(5), 1363.

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