Nail Biting: The StudyTo reach this conclusion, researchers studied 48 participants. Half of them were individuals who engaged in repetitive behaviors like nail biting. They had the participants fill out a number of surveys designed to test their organizational behavior and emotion regulation. Subsequently, the nail-biters were identified as organizational perfectionists. As reported by Scientific American, organizational perfectionism is characterized by a tendency to over-plan, over-work, and become frustrated by a lack of activity. (2) Nail biting helps perfectionists feel less frustrated in the present. As you might expect, it helps them release some of that pent-up energy and intention. However, this satisfaction does not last very long, as it's quickly replaced by pain and, potentially, embarrassment.
Potential Impact of the StudyWhile nail biting might seem like a relatively harmless activity, it actually has the potential to cause quite a bit of long-term damage. According to WebMD, nail biting can lead to infections, weakened teeth and shame-inducing deformation of the fingernails. (3) Those risks, along with the prevalence of nail biting, have made it a prime target for psychotherapists, who try to help their patients move past the behavior. (4) This new study has the potential to help those therapists better understand their patients and what causes their behavior. "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," said Sarah Roberts, one of the study's additional authors. (5)
Do you frequently bite your nails? Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?Here are a few more signs of perfectionism: (6):
- You think in very black and white, 'all-or-nothing' terms.
- You're very hard on yourself.
- When you don't achieve a goal, you become depressed.
- Even when you do achieve a goal, that success is not enough to make you happy.
- You never start a project until the 'right' moment – which often never seems to come.