Nervousness, anxiety and other similar conditions are usually what people attribute nail biting with. But there’s new research out which is revealing that nail-biting may be an indicator of something else. Perfectionism.
Yep, being a nail-biter may mean you are a perfectionist. This according to the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry where a study was published stating that the two are indeed linked. The author is Dr. Kieron O’Connor, and he said the following about nail-biting in relation to perfectionism:
“We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform tasks at a normal pace. They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals.”
So essentially, they are not trying to alleviate their nerves. They are actually biting out of a frustrated state.
They looked at 48 participants. Half had nail-biting repetitive behaviors. They took surveys which tested their emotional regulation and organizational behavior.
The organizational perfectionists were the nail-biters, who had the common trait of overworking themselves and making very detailed plans, while any lack of activity made them frustrated. Releasing all the pent-up energy goes towards doing repetitive behaviors such as nail-biting.
Impact Of The Study
While on one hand it can seem harmless, on the other there is a serious concern for nail-biting as it can actually cause long-term damage and lead to conditions such as the following: infections, weaker teeth, and of course, deformed nails.
Nail-biters are a major target for psychotherapists due to the risks and how common this condition is.
Sarah Roberts helped out on authoring the study and had the following to say:
“These findings suggest that individuals suffering from body-focused repetitive behaviors could benefit from treatments designed to reduce frustration and boredom and to modify perfectionist beliefs.”
Here are the signs to determine whether or not you are a perfectionist and prone to nail-biting or repetitive behavior due to frustration:
You think in “all-or-nothing” terms; you see things as black or white.
You are very hard on yourself.
You get upset when you fail to achieve a goal.
Even when you do achieve a goal, you’re still not satisfied.
You can’t start something until the “perfect moment” which of course may never arrive.