Good and bad sides of self-compassion: A face validity check of the self-compassion scale and an investigation of its relations to coping and emotional symptoms in non-clinical adolescents

Peter Muris*, Myrr van den Broek, Henry Otgaar, Iris Oudenhoven, Janine Lennartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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To demonstrate that the positive and negative subscales of Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) are very different in nature, we conducted a series of face validity checks on the items of this questionnaire among psychologists and psychology students (Study 1). Furthermore, a survey was administered to a convenience sample of non-clinical adolescents to examine the relations between various SCS subscales and symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as coping styles (Study 2). The results of the face validity checks revealed that the positive subscales seem to be well in line with the protective nature of self-compassion as they were mainly associated with cognitive coping and healthy functioning, whereas the negative subscales were chiefly associated with psychopathological symptoms and mental illness. The survey data demonstrated that the positive SCS subscales were positively correlated with adaptive coping (r's between .22 and .50) and negatively correlated with symptoms of anxiety and depression (r's between -.19 and -.53), while the negative subscales were positively correlated with symptoms (r's between .49 and .61) and maladaptive coping strategies such as passive reacting (r's between .53 and .56). Additional analyses indicated the negative subscales of the SCS accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in symptoms, whereas the unique contribution of the positive SCS subscales was fairly marginal. We caution to employ the total SCS score that includes the reversed negative subscales as such a procedure clearly inflates the relation between self-compassion and psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2411-2421
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Self-compassion
  • Self-Compassion Scale
  • Positive and negative subscales
  • Psychopathology
  • Validity

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