ArticlePDF Available

An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits



This study examined the relation of self-compassion to positive psychological health and the five factor model of personality. Self-compassion entails being kind toward oneself in instances of pain or failure; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness. Participants were 177 undergraduates (68% female, 32% male). Using a correlational design, the study found that self-compassion had a significant positive association with self-reported measures of happiness, optimism, positive affect, wisdom, personal initiative, curiosity and exploration, agreeableness, extroversion, and conscientiousness. It also had a significant negative association with negative affect and neuroticism. Self-compassion predicted significant variance in positive psychological health beyond that attributable to personality.
0092-6566/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916
Brief Report
An examination of self-compassion in relation
to positive psychological functioning
and personality traits
Kristin D. NeVa,¤, Stephanie S. Rude a, Kristin L. Kirkpatrick b
a Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, D5800,
Austin, TX, 78712, USA
b Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY, 40475, USA
Available online 2 October 2006
This study examined the relation of self-compassion to positive psychological health and the Wve
factor model of personality. Self-compassion entails being kind toward oneself in instances of pain or
failure; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience; and holding painful
thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness. Participants were 177 undergraduates (68% female,
32% male). Using a correlational design, the study found that self-compassion had a signiWcant posi-
tive association with self-reported measures of happiness, optimism, positive aVect, wisdom, personal
initiative, curiosity and exploration, agreeableness, extroversion, and conscientiousness. It also had a
signiWcant negative association with negative aVect and neuroticism. Self-compassion predicted sig-
niWcant variance in positive psychological health beyond that attributable to personality.
© 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Self-compassion; Self-attitudes; Self-criticism; Self-acceptance; Positive psychology; Big Wve
1. Introduction
NeV (2003a, 2003b) has recently proposed the construct of self-compassion as a healthy
form of self-acceptance. Self-compassion represents a warm and accepting stance towards
those aspects of oneself and one’s life that are disliked, and entails three main components
*Corresponding author. Fax: +1 512 471 1288.
E-mail address: (K.D. NeV).
K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916 909
(NeV, 2003b). First, it involves being kind and understanding to oneself in instances of
suVering or perceived inadequacy. It also involves a sense of common humanity, recogniz-
ing that pain and failure are unavoidable aspects of the shared human experience. Finally,
self-compassion entails balanced awareness of one’s emotions—the ability to face (rather
than avoid) painful thoughts and feelings, but without exaggeration, drama or self-pity.
Several studies have found that self-compassion is a powerful predictor of mental
health. For example, self-compassion is negatively associated with self-criticism, depres-
sion, anxiety, rumination, thought suppression, and neurotic perfectionism, while being
positively associated with life satisfaction and social connectedness (NeV, 2003a). Increased
self-compassion has been found to predict enhanced psychological health over time (Gil-
bert & Proctor, in press; NeV, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, in press), and to explain lessened stress
following participation in a widely implemented stress-reduction program (Mindfulness-
Based Stress Reduction; Shapiro, Astin, Bishop, & Cordova, 2005). Self-compassion
appears to have academic beneWts as well. NeV, Hseih, and Dejitthirat (2005) found that
self-compassion was linked to intrinsic interest in learning and healthier coping strategies
after failing an exam.
Research has shown that self-compassion can be empirically diVerentiated from self-
esteem. Although self-esteem and self-compassion are moderately correlated, self-compas-
sion is a stronger unique (negative) predictor of social comparison, anger, need for closure,
public self-consciousness, self-rumination, contingent self-worth and unstable self-worth
(NeV, 2005). Moreover, self-esteem is signiWcantly correlated with narcissism whereas self-
compassion is not (NeV, 2003a, 2005). NeV et al. (in press) found that self-compassion was
associated with reduced anxiety after considering one’s greatest weakness, but that self-
esteem did not provide such a buVer. In a series of controlled experiments, Leary, Tate,
Adams, and Allen (2006) demonstrated that self-compassion was associated with more
emotional balance than self-esteem when participants encountered potentially humiliating
situations, received unXattering inter-personal feedback, or remembered past negative life
While this body of research is promising, there is more to be learned about self-compas-
sion if it is to gain widespread acceptance as a psychologically adaptive mindset. For
instance, most of the research conducted on self-compassion so far has focused on its neg-
ative association with psychopathology. The positive psychology movement has argued
that it is necessary to consider well-being not only in terms of the absence of psychopathol-
ogy, but also in terms of human strengths and potentials (Seligman & Csikzentmihalyi,
2000). We feel that self-compassion is an important human strength as it invokes qualities
of kindness, equanimity, and feelings of inter-connectedness, helping individuals to Wnd
hope and meaning when faced with the diYculties of life. Thus, the current study looked at
the association of self-compassion with positive aspects of well-being identiWed as potential
beneWts of a self-compassionate stance—happiness, optimism, positive aVect, wisdom, per-
sonal initiative, and curiosity and exploration.
In addition, self-compassion has not yet been examined in relation to the Wve-factor
model of personality, a needed undertaking so that self-compassion can be viewed from
the perspective of this well-known personality framework. We expected there to be overlap
between self-compassion and the big Wve, particularly neuroticism, given that feelings of
self-judgment, isolation, and rumination inherent in the lack of self-compassion are similar
to those described by the neuroticism construct. However, we expected that self-compas-
sion would also predict well-being after accounting for shared variance with personality
910 K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916
traits. For instance, we thought that self-compassion would account for unique variance in
reXective wisdom, happiness and optimism due to the increased perspective, resilience, and
warmth associated with self-compassion—strengths that are captured less well by the Wve
personality dimensions.
2. Method
Participants included 177 undergraduate students (57 men; 120 women; M age 20.02
years; SD D2.25) who were randomly assigned from an educational-psychology subject
pool at a large Southwestern university. The ethnic breakdown of the sample was 56%
Caucasian, 25% Asian, 14% Hispanic, 5% Mixed Ethnicity, and 1% Other. While meeting
in groups of no more than 30, participants Wlled out a self-report questionnaire containing
all study measures.
2.1. Measures
2.1.1. Self-compassion
Participants were given the 26-item Self-Compassion Scale (SCS; NeV, 2003a), which
assesses six diVerent aspects of self-compassion (negative aspects are reverse coded): Self-
Kindness (e.g., “I try to be understanding and patient toward aspects of my personality I
don’t like”), Self-Judgment (e.g., “I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own Xaws
and inadequacies”), Common Humanity (e.g., “I try to see my failings as part of the human
condition”), Isolation (e.g., “When I think about my inadequacies it tends to make me feel
more separate and cut oV from the rest of the world”), Mindfulness (e.g., “When something
painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation”), and Over-IdentiWcation
(e.g., “When I’m feeling down I tend to obsess and Wxate on everything that’s wrong.”).
Responses are given on a Wve-point scale from “Almost Never” to “Almost Always.”
Research indicates the SCS has an appropriate factor structure and demonstrates concur-
rent validity (e.g., correlates with social connectedness), convergent validity (e.g., correlates
with therapist ratings), discriminate validity (e.g., no correlation with social desirability or
narcissism), and test–retest reliability (D.93; NeV, 2003a, 2005). All scale reliabilities can
be found in Table 1.
2.1.2. Wisdom
Participants completed the 39-item Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS; Ardelt,
2003), which measures three aspects of wisdom: cognitive (e.g., “In this complicated world of
ours the only way we can know what’s going on is to rely on leaders or experts who can be
trusted”), reXective (e.g., “I always try to look at all sides of a problem”), and aVective (e.g., “I
can be comfortable with all kinds of people”). Ardelt (2003) has demonstrated that the scale
has content validity (as assessed by three independent judges), convergent validity (high
scores on the scale were linked to peer nominations of wisdom), discriminant validity (e.g., no
signiWcant relation to income or social desirability) and test–retest reliability (D.85).
2.1.3. Personal initiative
The 9-item Personal Growth Initiative Scale (PGIS; Robitschek, 1998) assesses an
individual’s active involvement in changing and developing as a person (e.g., “If I want
to change something in my life, I initiate the transition process”). Robitschek (1998)
K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916 911
reports evidence for the scale’s concurrent validity (e.g., moderate positive correlations
with assertiveness, instrumentality, and internal locus of control), discriminant validity
(e.g., no correlations with SAT scores or social desirability) and test–retest reliability
2.1.4. Curiosity and exploration
Participants completed the Curiosity and Exploration Inventory (CEI; Kashdan, Rose,
& Fincham, 2004). The 4-item curiosity and exploration subscale measures strivings for
novel information and experiences with items such as “Everywhere I go, I am out looking
for new things or experiences.” The CEI has been shown to demonstrate convergent valid-
ity (e.g., signiWcant correlations with conWdent ratings), discriminant validity (e.g., no corre-
lation with social desirability, independence from positive aVect) and test–retest reliability
(D.80) in prior research (Kashdan et al., 2004).
2.1.5. Happiness
Participants’ happiness was assessed with the 4-item Subjective Happiness Scale
(SHS; Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999). On this measure, two items ask respondents how
happy they are using absolute and relative ratings, while two items describe happy and
unhappy individuals and ask respondents the extent to which the statements describe
2.1.6. Optimism
The well-known 6-item Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R; Scheier, Carver, &
Bridges, 1994) was used to measure optimism. It includes items such as “I’m always opti-
mistic about my future.”
Reliability for study measures (Cronbach’s Alpha) and inter-correlations between variables
Note. SCS, Self-Compassion Scale; W-C, cognitive wisdom; W-R, reXective wisdom; W-A, aVective wisdom; PI,
personal initiative; CE, curiosity and exploration; HAP, happiness; OPT, optimism; PA, positive aVect; NA, neg-
ative aVect; N, neuroticism; E, extroversion; O, openness to experience; A, agreeableness; C, conscientiousness.
.91 .88 .78 .89 .85 .68 .67 .72 .88 .70 .84 .79 .74 .80 .81
Happiness .57¤
Optimism .62¤.58¤
Pos. aVect .34¤.42¤.37¤
Neg. aVect ¡.36¤¡.30¤¡.38 .04 —
Wis.-cognitive .11 .13 .19¤¡.03 ¡.14 —
Wis.-reXective .61¤.47¤.59¤.22¤¡.39¤.44¤
Wis.-aVfective .26¤.35¤.27¤.10 ¡.22¤.43¤.47¤
Pers. initiative .45¤.58¤.52¤.47¤¡.25¤.09 .38¤.15 —
Curiosity/explor. .28¤.33¤.34¤.37¤¡.08 .34¤.37¤.18¤.44¤
Neuroticism ¡.65¤¡.55¤¡.60¤¡.28 .52¤¡.23¤¡.56¤¡.22¤¡.44¤¡.27¤
Extroversion .32¤.60¤.39¤.19¤¡.15¤.16¤.28¤.44¤.34¤.24¤¡.34¤
Openness to exp. ¡.05 .02 .03 ¡.05 .01 .52¤.18¤.19¤.04 .40¤.07 .15 —
Agreeableness .35¤.30¤.38¤.06 ¡.30¤.22¤.44¤.56¤.16¤.08 ¡.29 .40¤.01 —
Conscientious. .42¤.47¤.45¤.40¤¡.28¤.22¤.50¤.32¤.69¤.29¤¡.45¤.28¤¡.05 .34¤
912 K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916
2.1.7. Positive and negative aVect
This study employed the widely used Positive and Negative AVect Schedule (PANAS;
Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). The 10-item negative aVect subscale assesses the degree
to which participants are experiencing moods such as “upset” or “nervous”; the 10-item
positive aVect subscale assesses moods like “excited,” and “proud.”
2.1.8. Personality characteristics
Major broad-band personality traits were measured with the standard 60-item NEO
Five-Factor Inventory, Form S (NEO-FFI S; Costa & McCrae, 1992).
3. Results and discussion
First, we used a one-way ANOVA to check for sex or ethnic diVerences in self-compas-
sion, and none were found. Results were therefore collapsed by gender and ethnicity for
subsequent analyses. (All of the following results were also checked to ensure they did not
interact with gender or ethnicity). Zero-order correlations between the SCS and other vari-
ables examined in this study are presented in Table 1. Note that self-compassion was sig-
niWcantly correlated with all of the positive health constructs examined.
Happiness and optimism—two important features of positive mental health—were
strongly associated with self-compassion. Greater happiness may stem from (and also
facilitate) the feelings of warmth, inter-relatedness, and equilibrium that people experience
when they are self-compassionate. Research has also shown that happy people are less
likely than unhappy people to ruminate on negative life events (Lyubomirsky, 2001)—as
are self-compassionate individuals (NeV, 2003a). The contented mindset of self-compas-
sion and its associated adaptive coping skills (NeV et al., 2005) may also help to maintain
optimistic expectations about the future (Scheier et al., 1994). In fact, feelings of compas-
sion for self and others have been linked to higher levels of brain activation in the left pre-
frontal cortex, a region associated with joy and optimism (Lutz, Greischar, Rawlings,
Ricard, & Davidson, 2004).
Results indicated that self-compassionate individuals experienced signiWcantly more
positive and less negative mood generally. However, we do not interpret this to mean that
self-compassion is merely a “Pollyanish” form of positive thinking. Although self-compas-
sion is associated with positive aVect, it stems from the ability to hold diYcult negative
emotions in non-judgmental awareness without denial or suppression (NeV et al., in press).
Results indicate that self-compassion was strongly related to reXective wisdom, mod-
estly related to aVective wisdom, and positively but non-signiWcantly related to cognitive
wisdom. According to Ardelt’s (2003) formulation, reXective wisdom refers to the ability to
see reality as it is and to develop self-awareness and insight. It is likely that self-compassion
and reXective wisdom overlap in a variety of ways, resulting in the strong association
between the two constructs. Research shows that self-compassionate individuals make
more accurate self-appraisals (i.e., without self-enhancement or self-deprecation) than
those lacking the trait (Leary et al., 2006), suggesting that self-compassion may enhance
wisdom because it provides the emotional safety needed to see the self clearly. AVective
wisdom assesses constructive emotions towards others, such as feelings of kindness and
sympathy. The positive link between self-compassion and aVective wisdom suggests that
concern for the self and others are related. While self-compassion is considered to be part
of a more general compassionate stance, the reason a stronger association was not
K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916 913
obtained may be because individuals who lack self-compassion tend to say they are kinder
to others than to themselves (NeV, 2003a), so that being uncaring towards oneself does not
necessarily translate into a lack of other-focused concern. Self-compassion was not signiW-
cantly related to cognitive wisdom, which assesses the ability to understand people and the
real world. This type of “street smarts” does not appear to require self-compassion.
Self-compassion was signiWcantly related to personal initiative, deWned by Robitschek
(1998) as being actively involved in making changes needed for a more productive and ful-
Wlling life. Because self-compassionate individuals are not harshly self-critical, they may be
more able to acknowledge areas of weakness that need changing. This is important because
people are sometimes reluctant to be self-compassionate out of fear of self-indulgence
(NeV, 2003b). While focusing exclusively on pleasure for oneself might lead to self-indul-
gence, compassion involves desiring health and well-being for the self rather than pleasure
per se (Brach, 2003). In many instances, giving the self pleasure actually harms well-being
(e.g., taking drugs, over-eating, watching too much television), while promoting one’s
health often involves a certain amount of displeasure (e.g., exercising, dieting, reading a
diYcult but rewarding novel). Thus, the desire for well-being inherent in self-compassion is
likely to engender productive, positive change.
Results indicate that self-compassion was also signiWcantly related to curiosity and
exploration, a process that involves giving attention to and pursuing novel and challenging
experiences (Kashdan et al., 2004). This suggests that having an open and accepting stance
towards oneself is related to being open to the world in general. Self-compassionate indi-
viduals may be more curious about life because they tend to be intrinsically motivated and
have less fear of failure when faced with diYcult challenges (NeV et al., 2005). Conversely,
this curiosity may facilitate the willingness to hold one’s pain in compassionate awareness.
In terms of the Wve personality traits of the NEO-FFI, self-compassion had the stron-
gest association with neuroticism, with greater self-compassion leading to signiWcantly
lower levels of neuroticism. This supports past Wndings of a signiWcant negative relation-
ship between self-compassion and markers of maladjustment such as depression, anxiety,
and rumination (NeV, 2003b). Self-compassion also demonstrated a signiWcant positive
correlation with agreeableness, suggesting that the kind, connected, and emotionally bal-
anced stance of self-compassion is associated with a greater ability to get along with others
(note that self-compassion has also been linked to greater social connectedness in past
research; NeV, 2003a). Self-compassionate individuals were signiWcantly more likely to be
extroverted—perhaps because they are less likely to worry about the impression they make
on others, a concern that can lead to shy and withdrawn behavior. Extroversion scores
may also be a reXection of feelings of social inter-connectedness that are part of self-com-
passion. A signiWcant link was also found between self-compassion and conscientiousness.
This suggests that the emotional stability provided by self-compassion may help engender
(and be engendered by) more responsible behavior, and further underlines the distinction
between self-compassion and self-indulgence.
The one trait that was not signiWcantly associated with the SCS was openness to experi-
ence. This Wnding was surprising, given the receptive, non-judgmental nature of self-com-
passion. However, openness to experience measures the characteristics of having an active
imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, and preference for variety in addition to open-minded-
ness (Costa & McCrae, 1992), and it may be these dimensions of the trait that are unrelated
to self-compassion. This interpretation is supported by the fact that self-compassion was
signiWcantly linked to curiosity and exploration. Future research should examine this issue
914 K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916
by employing the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, which measures separate facets of
each personality trait.
To demonstrate that self-compassion was not redundant with personality dimensions,
we conducted regression analyses to determine whether self-compassion predicts unique
variance in positive functioning over and above the big Wve. First, we created a composite
of all the relevant outcome variables: happiness, optimism, positive aVect, negative aVect
(reverse coded), wisdom (cognitive, reXective, and aVective), personal initiative, and curios-
ity and exploration. (Most of these variables were signiWcantly inter-correlated, and explor-
atory factor analysis indicated that a single factor could explain 40% of their shared
variance, with all variables displaying factor loadings that were above .40. Thus, use of a
composite variable to represent positive functioning was considered appropriate.) As indi-
cated in Table 2, self-compassion predicted signiWcant variance in positive functioning
beyond that predicted by personality traits. Results suggest that self-compassion is not
redundant with established personality constructs in terms of predicting optimal function-
ing, and that self-compassion taps into certain aspects of positive well-being not fully cap-
tured by the Wve-factor model of personality.
4. Conclusion
Overall, study Wndings provided strong support for the contention that self-compassion
does more than ameliorate psychopathology—it also predicts positive psychological
strengths. Approaching painful feelings with self-compassion is linked to a happier, more
optimistic mindset, and appears to facilitate the ability to grow, explore, and wisely under-
stand oneself and others. The current research was conducted using self-report scales, of
course, so common method variance may have impacted results (PodsakoV, MacKenzie,
Lee, & PodsakoV, 2003). Though other research has found links between self-compassion
and well-being using more varied methods (e.g., behavioral tasks, experience sampling,
mood inductions; Leary et al., 2006; NeV et al., in press), current results should be inter-
preted with caution until conWrmed using other methodologies. Another limitation of the
correlational analyses employed in this study is that they cannot determine if self-compas-
sion causes or is caused by positive psychological traits or personality. It is likely that both
Table 2
Standardized regression coeYcients for personality traits and self-compassion predicting positive functioning
Note. The outcome variable of positive functioning represents a composite of happiness, optimism, positive
aVect, negative aVect (reverse coded), wisdom (cognitive, reXective, and aVective), personal initiative, and curios-
ity and exploration.
¤p< .001.
Predictor Model 1 Model 2
Neuroticism ¡.40¤¡.25¤
Extroversion .21¤.20¤
Openness to experience .21¤.21¤
Agreeableness .06 .02
Conscientiousness .39¤.36¤
Self-compassion — .27¤
Total adjusted R2.67 .71
K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916 915
inXuences are operating simultaneously. For instance, neurotic individuals may be more
likely to lack self-compassion due to their anxious and pessimistic mindset, but increased
self-compassion may also reduce neurotic tendencies (and/or reduce their harmful eVects
given that disliked personal traits are not compounded by harsh self-judgment). It is
unlikely that self-compassion is merely the end result of positive psychological states or
traits, however, because self-compassion occurs precisely when negative personal traits or
life events are encountered and acknowledged. Moreover, well-controlled research using a
self-compassion mood induction (Leary et al., 2006) has found that engendering a self-
compassionate mindset directly enhances emotional well-being.
Although self-compassion is new on the scene of Western psychology, it is actually a
central tenet of Buddhist thought (e.g., Brach, 2003), one of the world’s oldest wisdom tra-
ditions. Another Buddhist construct currently having an impact in the West is mindful-
ness—a state of non-judgmental awareness that involves the clear seeing and acceptance of
mental and emotional phenomena as they arise in the present moment (Baer, 2003). In fact,
a contributing factor to the success and popularity of mindfulness-based therapeutic tech-
niques may be that these approaches tend to include an explicit focus on self-compassion
(Shapiro et al., 2005). Gilbert and Proctor (in press) have developed a compassion-based
therapeutic approach to treating habitually self-critical individuals called Compassionate
Mind Training that appears highly promising. There are also reasons to believe that it is
easier to enhance self-compassion than self-esteem (Swann, 1996). For these reasons, future
research eVorts should be aimed at understanding how to increase self-compassion among
clinical and non-clinical populations, and should examine the impact of self-compassion
on physiological as well as mental health.
Thanks are due to Sam Gosling, Jamie Pennebaker and Phil Shaver for their helpful
advice on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Ardelt, M. (2003). Empirical assessment of a Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale. Research on Aging, 25, 275–324.
Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clinical
Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143.
Brach, T. (2003). Radical acceptance: embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha. New York: Bantam.
Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO-PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment
Gilbert, P. & Proctor, S. (in press). Compassionate mind training for people with high shame and self-criticism:
overview and pilot study of a group therapy approach. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy.
Kashdan, T. B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F. D. (2004). Curiosity and exploration: facilitating positive subjective expe-
riences and personal growth opportunities. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82, 291–305.
Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., & Allen, A. B. (2006). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-
relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly. Unpublished manuscript.
Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Rawlings, N. B., Ricard, M., & Davidson, R. J. (2004). Long-term meditators self-induce
high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
101, 16369–16373.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2001). Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational pro-
cesses in well-being. American Psychologist, 56, 239–249.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: preliminary reliability and construct
validation. Social Indicators Research, 46, 137–155.
916 K.D. NeV et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908–916
NeV, K. D. (2003a). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2,
NeV, K. D. (2003b). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self
and Identity, 2, 85–102.
NeV, K. D. (2005). Self-compassion: moving beyond the pitfalls of the separate self-concept. Paper presented at
the Quiet Ego Conference, Northern Arizona University, FlagstaV.
NeV, K. D., Hseih, Y., & Dejitthirat, K. (2005). Self-compassion, achievement goals, and coping with academic
failure. Self and Identity, 4, 263–287.
NeV, K. D., Kirkpatrick, K. & Rude, S. S. (in press). Self-compassion and its link to adaptive psychological func-
tioning. Journal of Research in Personality.
PodsakoV, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & PodsakoV, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral
research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88,
Robitschek, C. (1998). Personal growth initiative: the construct and its measure. Measurement and Evaluation in
Counseling and Development, 30, 183–198.
Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxi-
ety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): a re-evaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 67, 1063–1078.
Seligman, M. E., & Csikzentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55,
Shapiro, S. L., Astin, J. A., Bishop, S. R., & Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health
care professionals: results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12, 164–176.
Swann, W. B. (1996). Self-traps: the elusive quest for higher self-esteem. New York: Freeman.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and
negative aVect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.
... Another functional form of emotional competence, which has become increasingly important in resilience and well-being research, is self-compassion (Neff et al., 2007). Self-compassion entails three dimensions: Self-kindness (a forgiving attitude toward oneself versus self-criticism), common humanity (understanding struggles as human condition versus isolation), and mindfulness (Neff et al., 2007). ...
... Another functional form of emotional competence, which has become increasingly important in resilience and well-being research, is self-compassion (Neff et al., 2007). Self-compassion entails three dimensions: Self-kindness (a forgiving attitude toward oneself versus self-criticism), common humanity (understanding struggles as human condition versus isolation), and mindfulness (Neff et al., 2007). Thus, instead of suppressing their negative emotions, self-compassionate individuals accept their struggle as part of the human condition and treat themselves with kindness. ...
Full-text available
Men are disproportionately often perpetrators of physical domestic violence (DV). Gender role constructs, such as traditional masculinity ideologies (TMI), are broadly accepted as an explanation for this effect. Emotional competence further constitutes an important role in TMI and the prevention of DV. However, the interactions between these constructs remains unclear. The present study aims to investigate associations of TMI with aggression, DV perpetration, and emotional competence, while also examining emotional competence as a potential moderator. A sample of 428 cisgender men (Mage = 43.9 ± 15.3) from German-speaking countries in Europe completed an anonymous online survey that assessed TMI, aggression, and DV perpetration as well as alexithymia, emotion regulation, and self-compassion as indicators of emotional competence. Strong TMI were associated with high levels of aggression and overall reduced emotional competence, as reflected by high levels of alexithymia, frequent use of expressive suppression, and low levels of self-compassion. Strong conformity to TMI was associated with a higher likelihood for DV perpetration when considering relevant sociodemographic covariates. Moderation analyses revealed that expressive suppression buffered the association between TMI and DV perpetration. Men with strong TMI report high levels of aggression and impaired emotional competence. While strong conformity to TMI was associated with more frequent perpetration of DV, higher expressive suppression seems to buffer the association between TMI and DV perpetration. The present study highlights the importance of addressing gender ideologies when working on aggression, DV perpetration and emotional competence in men.
Human society and its development are based on the principle of cooperation. The choice of a cooperative strategy in a context of uncertainty, such as the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game, can be influenced by many factors, both individual and situational. However, there is limited evidence regarding how these factors affect strategic choices when players are subjected to cognitive load conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of situational factors, such as cognitive load, and two individual factors, namely peace attitude and personality, on strategic decision-making. Fifty-six adults participated in the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game under two conditions that differed in cognitive load: in the first condition, they had to make decisions about the Prisoner's Dilemma task with working memory load, while in the second condition, they had to make decisions about the same task without working memory load. Additionally, participants completed the Peace Attitude Scale and the Italian 10-Item Big Five Inventory. The results indicated that both individual and situational factors influenced strategic choices. Specifically, cognitive load increased the cooperative strategy in the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game. Furthermore, individual factors influenced strategic choices only in the condition with cognitive load: people with higher levels of peace attitude and conscientiousness tended to be more cooperative than those with lower peace attitude.
In Australia and New Zealand, young construction workers have high suicide rates that are associated with increased psychological distress. Research so far has focused on risk factors, such as workplace bullying during young workers’ apprenticeship training. However, there is a gap in research on factors associated with fostering psychological well-being and the development of strength-based interventions for the industry. One factor which is related to psychological well-being is self-compassion, the ability to be empathic towards oneself during times of suffering or failure. The present study ( N = 252) examined relationships between self-compassion, psychological well-being, psychological distress and exposure to workplace bullying in New Zealand construction apprentices. Results showed that self-compassion was positively and significantly related to psychological well-being and negatively related to psychological distress. Self-compassion also uniquely predicted all of the six dimensions of psychological well-being. Experiences of workplace bullying and psychological distress were substantial, and workplace bullying was positively related to psychological distress. Contrary to our hypothesis, self-compassion did not moderate the association between bullying and psychological distress. Overall, these findings indicate that self-compassion interventions may have promise as a mechanism to improve the well-being of construction apprentices.
Older adulthood presents newfound joys and freedom, as well as simultaneous changes to health, social roles, and identity. Some people can embrace these transitions in a way that optimizes well-being, whereas others can struggle to adjust to the changes of later life. A new but growing area of research is the role of self-compassion as a psychological resilience factor that might help people navigate the transitions of aging. This chapter reviews the research linking self-compassion to four key pillars of positive aging, including mental well-being, physical well-being, engagement in activity, and social connectedness in samples of adults aged 65 and over. It also explores four broad mechanisms that might explain how self-compassion facilitates a positive experience of aging, via promoting positive attitudes to aging, healthy adjustment to change, behavioral flexibility, and flexible goal pursuit. In sum, the current literature shows that self-compassion is a promising resilience factor associated with various aspects of positive aging. In the context of an aging global society, more research is needed to expand this nascent area of research.KeywordsSelf-compassionate agingPositive agingSelf-compassionWell-beingHealthy aging
Self-compassion is a caring and supportive way of relating to oneself in times of distress. It involves kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, a sense of common humanity rather than isolation, and mindfulness rather than overidentification with painful thoughts and feelings. Self-compassion can take the form of tender self-acceptance – a gentle, nurturing stance that allows us to open to the imperfection of ourselves and our lives with warmth. It can also take the form of fierce action, protecting ourselves from harm and standing up to injustice, taking steps to meet our needs, and motivating needed change in our behavior or environment. This chapter focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of self-compassion and its measurement. Self-compassion is most commonly measured using the Self-Compassion Scale, for which extensive validity data exists. Factor analyses using state-of-the-art psychometric methods designed to examine multidimensional measures support the use of a total score or else six subscale scores. The factor structure of the SCS has been found to be invariant across cultures, although mean levels of self-compassion vary by age, gender, and nation. Other versions of the SCS exist, including a short version, a state version, and a youth version. Researchers are also increasingly using experimental methods to examine the benefits of self-compassion.KeywordsSelf-compassionTheoryMeasurementPsychometricsIndividual differences
Sexual- and gender-minority (SGM) populations include all individuals of diverse sexualities and genders. As members of stigmatized groups in hierarchy-based societies, SGM individuals are commonly subjected to discrimination and violence and denied access to social resources and opportunities (i.e., minority stress). Such conditions place these individuals at higher risk for mental health difficulties. Additionally, SGM individuals often internalize the stories told to justify inequitable access to social resources, which can compromise their mental health. Self-compassion interventions have potential for buffering the impact of exposure to minority stressors and disrupting internalization processes, thereby promising improvement for the mental health of SGM individuals. This chapter discusses the theoretical underpinnings of self-compassion as it relates to the minority-stress model in SGM populations and discusses extant research on self-compassion in SGM populations.KeywordsSelf-compassionLGBTQSexual minorityGender minorityTransgenderMinority stress
Self-compassion entails holding a kind, emotionally balanced, and connected attitude toward one’s difficult emotions and perceived weaknesses. This orientation is linked to substantial benefits for personal well-being, but it may also be rooted in and contribute to healthy, supportive close relationships. This chapter explores both theory and evidence regarding the link between high self-compassion and a wide variety of adaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors relevant to relationships. Some examples include relationship satisfaction, family functioning, empathy, and increased ability to resolve conflicts, forgive transgressions, tolerate flaws in and criticism from others, communicate effectively, and meet one’s own needs. In the second part of the chapter, evidence regarding the role of self-compassion in parenting and other types of caregiving – including in both family and professional settings – is discussed. In these contexts, self-compassion is linked to lower levels of caregiver stress, guilt and shame, more positive attitudes and behaviors toward care recipients, and an inward shifting of care provision toward the caregiver that ultimately revitalizes caregiving capacities. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the benefits of offering self-compassion programming widely, with a dual focus on individual and relational well-being, to promote cultures of compassionate support in clinical health care, families, and communities.KeywordsSelf-compassionCaregivingRelationshipsInterpersonal behaviorAttachment
Objective: The current study aimed to estimate the prevalence of common mental health difficulties in parents who have an infant with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), and to identify psychological predictors of parental anxiety, depression, and well-being, as a platform for subsequent intervention development. Methods: Parents of infants with GORD (N = 309) completed online psychometric measures of potential predictors (self-compassion, illness appraisals, and illness uncertainty), potential confounders (sleep quality, relationship satisfaction, social support, and infant feeding satisfaction), and mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, and wellbeing). The outcome measures were repeated eight-weeks later (N = 103). Results: At the first time-point, 66% of participants exceed the clinical cut off for generalised anxiety disorder and 63% exceeded that for a depressive disorder. Both had significantly reduced eights-weeks later. Greater self-compassion predicted lower anxiety and depression, and better well-being, in both cross-sectional and longitudinal data, including when all confounders were controlled for. Illness uncertainty and illness appraisals were less consistent predictors. No robust differences were found between parents of infants with silent GORD and those with GORD with visible regurgitation. Conclusions: Parents of infants with GORD showed high rates of anxiety and depression, which were elevated compared to those that have been found in perinatal and general population samples. Self-compassion was a consistent predictor of better mental health and has promise as a proximal intervention target. Future research could benefit from examining the efficacy of a compassion-focussed intervention in this population.
Research on self-compassion across various disciplines has consistently demonstrated numerous self-regulatory benefits associated with the construct. Despite the increasing interest, theory-driven research on self-compassion in the workplace has only begun to emerge recently. In the present research, we introduce the construct of work self-compassion ( WSC). Building on Neff’s definition of self-compassion, we submit that WSC is comprised of work self-kindness, common work challenges, and work-specific mindfulness. Across two studies, we develop a scale to measure WSC and test its place within the larger nomological network of organizational constructs. Specifically, by integrating COR theory with prior research on self-compassion, in Study 1, we test the incremental validity of WSC beyond general self-compassion in predicting job performance. In Study 2, we further demonstrate that WSC is an important mediating mechanism that bridges the association between honesty-humility, namely the H-factor, and job performance and burnout, respectively. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of our findings and conclude with limitations and future research directions.
Full-text available
The literature is replete with evidence that the stress inherent in health care negatively impacts health care professionals, leading to increased depression, decreased job satisfaction, and psychological distress. In an attempt to address this, the current study examined the effects of a short-term stress management program, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), on health care professionals. Results from this prospective randomized controlled pilot study suggest that an 8-week MBSR intervention may be effective for reducing stress and increasing quality of life and self-compassion in health care professionals. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Interest in the problem of method biases has a long history in the behavioral sciences. Despite this, a comprehensive summary of the potential sources of method biases and how to control for them does not exist. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which method biases influence behavioral research results, identify potential sources of method biases, discuss the cognitive processes through which method biases influence responses to measures, evaluate the many different procedural and statistical techniques that can be used to control method biases, and provide recommendations for how to select appropriate procedural and statistical remedies for different types of research settings.
This article defines the construct of self-compassion and describes the development of the Self-Compassion Scale. Self-compassion entails being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical; perceiving one's experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them. Evidence for the validity and reliability of the scale is presented in a series of studies. Results indicate that self-compassion is significantly correlated with positive mental health outcomes such as less depression and anxiety and greater life satisfaction. Evidence is also provided for the discriminant validity of the scale, including with regard to self-esteem measures.
Although wisdom is thought to be a strong predictor for many attributes of aging well, the concept of wisdom still lacks a comprehensive, directly testable scale. Quantitative and qualitative interviews with a sample of close-knit social groups of 180 older adults (age 52+) were conducted to develop a three-dimensional wisdom scale (3D-WS) and to test its validity and reliability. Wisdom was operationalized and measured as a latent variable with cognitive, reflective, and affective effect indicators. Respondents completed a self-administered questionnaire, which included 114 items from existing scales and 18 newly developed items to assess the three dimensions of wisdom. The final version of the 3D-WS consists of 14 items for the cognitive, 12 for the reflective, and 13 for the affective component of wisdom. Results indicate that the 3D-WS can be considered a reliable and valid instrument and a promising measure of the latent variable wisdom in large, standardized surveys of older populations.
This manuscript presents the Personal Growth Initiative construct and describes the development and initial validation of the Personal Growth Initiative Scale.
This article defines and examines the construct of self-compassion. Self-compassion entails three main components: (a) self-kindness—being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical, (b) common humanity—perceiving one's experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as separating and isolating, and (c) mindfulness—holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them. Self-compassion is an emotionally positive self-attitude that should protect against the negative consequences of self-judgment, isolation, and rumination (such as depression). Because of its non-evaluative and interconnected nature, it should also counter the tendencies towards narcissism, self-centeredness, and downward social comparison that have been associated with attempts to maintain self-esteem. The relation of self-compassion to other psychological constructs is examined, its links to psychological functioning are explored, and potential group differences in self-compassion are discussed.
In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
In this . . . book, William Swann dissects the mistaken assumptions that underlie current self-esteem programs. Swann proposes the concept of "self-traps" as a new way of understanding both the roots and manifestations of low self-esteem. He investigates behavior that has defied explanation by traditional psychological models, such as the regularity with which people suffering from low self-esteem gravitate to relationships in which they are denigrated or abused. Swann convincingly argues that such behavior is the result of our desire to maintain a stable identity by bringing others to see us as we see ourselves, even when we view ourselves negatively. "Self-Traps" [explores] how self-esteem conflicts develop and are played out in all our relationships, and how the authentic achievement of self-esteem is often undermined by American social norms that tell us how to approach our love relationships and work. Swann shows how these societal influences may compound the inner conflicts that people with low self-esteem have, making their thought patterns and behavior that much more difficult to change. Swann proposes solutions that take into account the multifaceted nature of self-esteem and allow us to perform a delicate balancing act, changing our notions of who we are without irreparably losing our fundamental sense of identity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
In this chapter, I provide an overview of theory and research on a form of self-to-self relating known as self-compassion, in which egoistic self-focus is minimized at the same time that great care and concern are felt toward the self. To understand what is meant by the term self-compassion, it is useful to consider what it means to feel compassion more generally. When one experiences compassion, one notices and is moved by the suffering of others, so that the desire to alleviate their suffering arises. Compassion for the failings and misdeeds of others is also met with understanding instead of harsh condemnation that simplistically reifies people as bad, so that unskilled actions and behaviors are seen in the context of shared human fallibility. Self-compassion involves taking a similar stance toward one's own suffering, so that one is kind and understanding toward oneself when failure, inadequacy, or misfortune is experienced. Self-compassionate individuals recognize that pain and imperfection are an inevitable part of the human experience, something that we all go through instead of an isolated occurrence that happens to "me" alone. Having compassion for oneself also involves taking a balanced perspective on negative self-relevant emotions, so that personal pain is neither suppressed and denied nor exaggerated and dramatized. Most people say they are less nurturing toward and more harsh with themselves than they are with other people. Self-compassionate individuals, however, say they are equally kind to themselves and others. Self-compassion can be thought of as a type of openheartedness in which the boundaries between self and other are softened--all human beings are worthy of compassion, the self included. In this way, self-compassion represents a quiet ego, because one's experience is not strongly filtered through the lens of a separate self. Before I review the research on self-compassion, I think it is useful to consider the more well-known construct of self-esteem, which is a noisy instead of quiet approach that often enshrines the ego in neon lights screaming "Me, me, me!" (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)