A Protective Factor Against Mental Health Problems in Youths? A Critical Note on the Assessment of Self-Compassion

Peter Muris*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Self-compassion, which refers to the tendency of being kind and understanding to oneself when confronted with personal failings and difficulties, is increasingly investigated as a protective factor within the context of mental health problems. In this invited paper, I will briefly introduce the concept of self-compassion and give an overview of the research that has examined its relationship with psychopathology in youth. Then I will make my critical point regarding the assessment of self-compassion: the scales that are currently used for measuring this construct include a large number of reversely scored, negative items that measure the precise opposite of having compassion with oneself. I present evidence (partly on the basis of own data) that these negative items do not reflect the true protective nature of self-compassion and tend to inflate the relation with psychopathology. My recommendation is to remove the negative items from the scales and to assess self-compassion by means of a set of items that truly reflect its protective nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1465
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Self-compassion
  • Psychopathology
  • Youths
  • Assessment

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