Ask anyone what nail-biting is likely an indicator of, and most people will tell you that it's a sign of nervousness and anxiety. According to new research, however, this and other "body-focused repetitive behaviors" may actually be indicative of something else entirely.
According to a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, nail-biting might just be indicative of... perfectionism??
Dr. Kieron O’Connor, author of the study, said "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.”
Basically, nail-biters aren't trying to alleviate their nerves - they're doing it out of frustration.
Researchers studied 48 participants, half of whom had repetitive behaviors like nail-biting. The participants filled out surveys designed to test their organizational behavior and emotional regulation.
The nail-biters were identified as being organizational perfectionists, a personality type marked by a tendency to make detailed plans and overwork themselves, and they often become frustrated by a lack of activity. Nail-biting and other repetitive behaviors are just their way of releasing their pent-up energy.
Impact Of The Study
Nail-biting might seem relatively harmless, but it can cause some long-term damage. WebMD says that nail-biting can lead to infection, weak teeth, and deformed nails. These risks, along with how prevalent this behavior is, have made nail-biting one of the leading areas that psychotherapists work with their clients on.
“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, who also helped author the study.
Do you bite your nails? Are you a perfectionist?
Here are some signs:
- 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 may never arrive
Check out the video below to learn more about curbing your nail-biting habit.
H/T: David Wolfe