Obsessive passion for studying: developmental sources and potential resolutions

Thumbnail Image
Wang, Yunqiao
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Passion is a strong motivational force that has been used to explain humans’ achievements and foibles. This suggests both its importance and its dual nature that was recently categorized into obsessive passions (OP) and harmonious passions (HP). OP, unlike HP, is known to be associated with adverse psychological wellbeing. Although, many outcome studies on passion exist, little is known about what contributes to the development of OP, and no study has examined possible strategies to decrease levels of OP or increase levels of HP. Accordingly, the present research examines these questions in the context of OP for studying. In Study 1, parenting style was evaluated as a potential contributor to the development of OP for studying among university students with varying levels of obsessive passion (n = 253). Perfectionism, achievement goals, burnout, self-compassion, leisure-time satisfaction, and life satisfaction were explored for their mediation effects, and implicit theories of intelligence and sociodemographic characteristics were examined for their moderation effects. Although authoritarian parenting was associated with lower life satisfaction, contrary to what was expected, permissive parenting style was significantly associated with OP, and this relationship was mediated by mastery goal achievement. In Study 2, self-affirmation (SA) essay writing was examined for its helpfulness in transforming OP into HP and in reducing the negativities associated with high OP (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). In a sample of university students whose OP levels were identified as “high” (n = 178), SA writing, compared to control writing, did not establish a healthier balance between HP and OP, nor did it reduce negativities related to OP. The limited findings are contextualized within the domain of studying among university students. Overall, the results suggest that the origins of OP do not rest upon an authoritarian parenting style and that a single dose of SA administration was not efficacious in altering levels of OP and HP. This study, however, nonetheless offers an initial step in the exploration of preventative and treatment strategies for OP. Future research should follow, by shifting the attention of passion research from outcome studies to the identification of risk factors and interventions.
Obsessive passion, Parenting style, Self-affirmation, Studying