Since the 1980s, the academic achievements of Asian American students have been presented as evidence that this group represents a “model minority” whose hard work and dedication set an example that should be followed by other racial/ethnic minority groups. A prevalent explanation for their educational successes highlights the influence of Asian American cultural values; however, this theory obscures considerable ethnic diversity within this group and differences in educational attainment and achievement. In order to provide a more balanced understanding of the educational experiences of Asian American students, it is important to explore other variables related to academic functioning and their associations with Asian American values. The current study examined cultural values in relation to other variables related to academic functioning and achievement: multidimensional perfectionism, academic self-efficacy, and procrastination.
Measures of multidimensional perfectionism, academic self-efficacy, academic procrastination, Asian American cultural values, and social desirability were administered to 316 self-identified Asian or Asian American students in a large Midwestern university. Although the study of perfectionism has expanded this construct’s conceptualization to encompass both positive and negative qualities, few studies have examined the validity of measures of multidimensional perfectionism in diverse samples. Therefore the factor structure and psychometric properties of the Almost
Perfect Scale-Revised (APS-R; Slaney, Rice, Mobley, Trippi, & Ashby, 2001) were assessed, and results of this study provide empirical support for the use of the APS-R and its subscales in research on perfectionism in Asian American students. Furthermore, cluster analysis was used to classify participants as adaptive perfectionists, maladaptive perfectionists, or non-perfectionists based on their level of personal standards and concerns about their performance not meeting their expectations. One-way analysis of variance among the groups found that types of perfectionists differed in their confidence in their capabilities to successfully perform academic tasks, self-reported frequency of procrastination, and endorsement of Asian American cultural values. Adaptive perfectionists reported less frequent procrastination, greater confidence in their abilities to master academic tasks, and lower endorsement of Asian American cultural values. In contrast, maladaptive perfectionists indicated that they had less confidence in their abilities to successfully perform academic tasks, were more likely to delay initiation or completion of such tasks, and reported higher adherence to Asian American cultural values.
These results provide support for the conceptualization of perfectionism as a multifaceted construct with both positive and negative qualities and suggest that cultural values are related to one’s expectations and standards for performance. By examining variations in participants’ perfectionism, academic self-efficacy, procrastination frequency, and adherence to Asian American cultural values, this study highlights individual differences within this group and provides evidence that the model minority image is a stereotype that does not apply to all Asian American students.
These results are discussed in detail herein. Implications of the findings along with the limitations of the study are presented. Recommendations of future research are also described.