If You Bite This Part Of Yourself, You're A Perfectionist, According To Research

Here's what your bad grooming habits say about you.

girl sitting in a colorful room pixelshot, Dean Drobot | Canva 

One of the gross habits that I can't help but do is pick and bite my nails. Ever since I could remember I would let my nails grow out so I could paint them but if they get even the slightest uneven chip, I would pick or bite them until all the nail polish was gone.

Well, now science is claiming that this type of behavior is a sign of perfectionism, and yikes, that's not really a good thing, is it?

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A 2015 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that perfectionism is a common trait in those who bite their nails, pluck their skin, and pull their eyelashes. 

However, it doesn't look like perfectionism is the only thing these habits are tied to — stress also has a lot to do with it

According to the study, people who are generally impatient, or who get bored or frustrated easily, are more likely to engage in repetitive body-focused behaviors such as skin-picking, nail-biting, or eyelash-pulling.

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In the study, the researchers worked with 48 participants, half of them who had those habits. The other participants, who didn't engage in these behaviors, were the control group. The participants were asked questions about the extent to which they experienced emotions like boredom, anger, guilt, irritability, and anxiety.

Then, each participant was exposed to situations designed to provoke particular feelings, and the opposite of those feelings, like relaxation, stress, frustration, and boredom. As for boredom, the participant had to quietly sit in a room alone for 6 minutes.

Participants with a history of fidgety, body-focused behaviors reported greater urges to engage in those behaviors when they were feeling stressed and frustrated. But they didn't report feeling those urges while they were relaxing.

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"We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning they are unable to relax and to perform tasks at a 'normal' pace," explains the lead author of the study, Dr. Kieron O'Connor said. "They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. They also experience greater levels of boredom."

The study also found people with these behaviors were most likely to do them (bite nails, pick skin, pull out eyelashes) when they were feeling stressed. The habits are then used to regulate their emotion.

I guess the next time I find the urge to bite my nails I should drink calming tea instead! But if you're looking for a much tougher way of knocking your habit, O'Connor recommends cognitive therapy.


RELATED: If You Keep Up These 3 Bad Habits, You'll Never Grow As A Person

Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.