Some behavioural experiments can be simple – noticing how anxious you will be in a situation, what will happen if you do something, how long a feeling will last, how other people might react. Others can be more complicated e.g. comparing of one behaviour with another. 

Different Behavioural Experiments

Here are more examples of perfectionist beliefs that can be tested in behavioural experiments

Belief / Prediction Experiment
Belief:I’ll do better if I work hard
Prediction:I’ll get A if I work a lot more than others, B if I work as much as others and I’ll fail if I work less than others
Work a lot more than others for one piece of work, as much as others for another and work less than others for a third.

Is the outcome as you predicted?
Belief: If I don’t come top, I’ll feel like a failure for ages
Prediction: I’ll feel anxious, miserable and think that I’m a failure as a person all day, every day, for at least a week
Don’t come top in something trivial on purpose (e.g. a running race with a friend down a street).

Is the outcome as you predicted? Try testing your prediction in more meaningful/important situations
Belief: If I start something I have to finish it completely
Prediction: If I leave something half-done, it will be on my mind (100% of the time) and I won’t be able to sleep for more than a couple of hours
Leave something half-finished.

Was it on your mind?
How much?
For how long?
Did you sleep?
For how long?
Belief: If I don’t write everything down, I’ll make lots of serious mistakes
Prediction: If I don’t write down everything I need to do today, I’ll forget something important like bringing my sports attire to school
Leave one thing off a list (such as your sports attire).

Did you remember it?
What was it like not writing it down?
Can you write a shorter list with just very important things on it?
How many mistakes did you make?
Belief: Training hard makes me happy because it is the right thing to do and I achieve more
Prediction: I’m happier when I train hard than when I don’t and I will win more races
Train hard for one week – really push yourself.

How happy does it make you (0-10)?
How unhappy does it make you (0-10)?
What else did you observe? How did you do?

Don’t train as hard for a week and make the same notes. Compare the results.


Now is your turn to try! 

(It doesn’t have to be perfect and there’s no right or wrong answers so there’s no need to avoid/procrastinate!)

1) My belief
2) My general prediction
3) My prediction in details (e.g. specific behaviours; rate how strongly your beliefs and feelings are from 0 to 10)
4) Experiments
5) Results
6) What I've learnt
7) My new belief (e.g. specific behaviours; rate how strongly your beliefs and feelings are from 0 to 10)



Behavioural experiments can provide meaningful information about your feelings, thoughts and behaviour by turning your perfectionism “on” or “off” and seeing the effects. This is a great way to decide what behaviours work best for you and allows you to have a more balanced, happier life. So download the template and use it as many times as you need!