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Research on Self-compassion. Kristin Neff, PhD University of Texas at Austin. The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) Tried to represent the main components of self-compassion in scale. Sample Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) Items

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Research on Self-compassion

Kristin Neff, PhD

University of Texas at Austin

The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS)
  • Tried to represent the main components of self-compassion in scale
Sample Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) Items

Self-Kindness Subscale: I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality I don't like.

Self-Judgment Subscale: I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.

Common Humanity Subscale: I try to see my failings as part of the human condition.

Isolation Subscale: When I fail at something that's important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure.

Mindfulness Subscale: When I'm feeling down I try to approach my feelings with curiosity and openness.

Over-identified Subscale: When something upsets me I get carried away with my feelings.

self compassion linked to well being
Self-Compassion Linked to Well-being

Greater: life satisfaction, social connectedness, autonomy, resilient coping, personal growth, reflective and affective wisdom, curiosity and exploration, happiness, optimism

Less: anxiety, depression, self-criticism, neuroticism, rumination, thought suppression, and perfectionism

Populations studied: Ages14 – 83

United States, Netherlands, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey

Self-compassion and anxiety
  • Several studies show that self-compassion provides a very strong buffer again self-evaluative anxiety
  • At its core anxiety stems from fear of being excluded from the social group
  • Self-compassion provides feelings of safety, acceptance and interconnectedness
Self-compassion and body image
  • Concerns with thinness often driven by the need for high self-esteem
  • Cultural standards of thinness becoming more extreme for females
  • Most females are unhappy with their body, want to be thinner, are currently on a diet
  • Self-compassion can allow for acceptance of one’s own body, of personal imperfection
  • Also provides motivation for change if diet and exercise are needed – health rather than self-worth
Research on self-compassion and body image
  • Self-compassion is associated with health behaviors among women
    • Linked to intrinsic motivation to exercise, less focus on ego-concerns
    • Greater comfort with their bodies, less concerned with social evaluation
  • Self-compassion reduces the urge to overeat among those who have “blown” their diet
Group differences in self-compassion
  • Women tend to have less self-compassion than men
    • Mainly because are more self-critical and tend to be more negative
    • Women tend to be kinder to others than to self
    • Women are just as high in their feelings of common humanity, a strength that can be built upon
Group differences in self-compassion
  • Practicing Buddhists have higher levels of self-compassion than the general population
    • Means that self-compassion is a skill that can be practiced
Group differences in self-compassion
  • In a cross-cultural study, Thais had highest levels of self-compassion, Taiwanese the lowest, Americans were in-between
    • Means that Asians should not be stereotyped
    • In all three cultures, self-compassion strongly linked to psychological well-being
Self-compassion in relationships
  • Research suggests that self-compassion can greatly enhance relationship interactions
  • Examined how self-compassion levels related to reports by partners of relationship behavior
    • Self-compassionate partners were described as more caring, intimate, accepting, and autonomy granting
    • Self-compassionate partners were described as being less detached, controlling, hostile, and aggressive
  • People with more self-compassion had better relationships
Importance of self-compassion for care-givers

Research shows that self-compassion is associated with less burnout and compassion fatigue

Self-compassion provides the emotional resources needed to nurture others

By acknowledging how difficult care-giving can be, reduces anger and resentment

By opening our hearts to human imperfection, can accept others as they are

Self-compassion in adolescence
  • Main task of adolescence is identity formation
  • Highly concerned with evaluating self-worth (especially in comparison with peers)
  • Self-compassionate teens have much lower levels of depression and anxiety, greater connectedness
  • Self-compassion levels predicted by maternal criticism, family conflict, attachment style
    • Self-compassion may be thought of as an internalized form of relating that is partly modeled from parents