Nail Biting: Just A Sign That You’re So Perfect


Perfectionists may be more prone to bad habits — like nail biting. (Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Do you know a nail biter? Is she mostly perfect, except for her nail biting? Do you know a compulsive hair twister? Is she an impeccable study in refinement, aside from her hair-twisting? Maybe you do! Scientists are linking body-focused compulsive habits to perfectionists.

Related: How to Give Yourself a Salon-Worthy Manicure

Scientists at the University of Montreal published a study in this month’s issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry that suggests that perfectionism might be at the root of these habits. In a few experiments, nail biters said they wanted to chew more strongly when they were prohibited from completing work in a timely manner and when they were bored (left in a room alone for six minutes). “We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform task at a ‘normal’ pace,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Kieron O’Connor. “They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals.”

Related: Can You Train Yourself to Accept Your Body?

They need new goals, like chomping down on their nails and destroying their manicures. It’s the perfectionist’s Catch-22: They might be soothed, but their nails will get mangled.

By Maggie Lange

See more from The Cut:

How to Get Rid of Pesky, Itchy Dandruff

The Six Major Anxieties of Social Media

Woman Jailed for Nail Painting; Brazilian Blowout Settles Lawsuit

4 Different Ways to Conquer Nasty Cellulite

A Nail-Art Haven for People Who Hate Nail Art