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The dual model of perfectionism was adopted to explore the influence of adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism on depression in college students. The results support the dual process model of perfectionism in Chinese undergraduates. A sample of 206 Chinese undergraduates completed measures of perfectionism, General Self-efficacy Measure, Beck Depression Inventory, State Anxiety Inventory, Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Time 1) and Beck Depression Inventory 4 months later (Time 2). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the three-factor model of perfectionism with dimensions of maladaptive perfectionism, adaptive perfectionism and order factor fit the date well. Partial correlations analyses revealed that maladaptive perfectionism was related to psychopathology, whereas adaptive perfectionism was more closely correlated with positive features of mental health. In cross-sectional analyses, the discrepancy which measures the perceived difference between the standards one has set for one’s own behaviour and actual performance and the socially prescribed perfectionism subscales of maladaptive perfectionism could significantly predict baseline depressive symptoms. However, after controlling for the initial scores of depression, none of the perfectionism subscales significantly predicted the change in depression across a 4-month lag. Distinguishing adaptive and maladaptive aspects of perfectionism may be beneficial to understanding the influence of perfectionism on depression.