The (non)Protective Role of Self-Compassion in Internalizing Symptoms: Two Empirical Studies in Adolescents Demonstrating Unwanted Effects of Using the Self-Compassion Scale Total Score

Peter Muris*, Henry Otgaar, Angelica Lopez, Iva Kurtic, Ingrid van de Laar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Several scholars have questioned the use of the total Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) score as an appropriate index for measuring self-compassion as a protective psychological trait.
Methods: We present two new studies to further examine the relationships between SCS or SCS-Short Form scores and symptoms of anxiety and depression in non-clinical samples of adolescents (Ns being 106 and 52).
Results: Both studies showed that most of the variance in internalizing symptoms was explained by the uncompassionate self-responding (USR) components of the SCS and that the share of the compassionate self-responding (CSR) was fairly small. Moreover, when controlling for other relevant variables (study 1: neuroticism and extraversion; study 2: self-esteem and lack of self-esteem), the unique contribution of CSR in explaining variance was even completely abolished.
Conclusions: We argue that the inclusion of the USR components in the SCS (1) hinders the proper investigation of the protective role of self-compassion, (2) inflates the relationship with internalizing symptoms, and (3) obscures the (fair) comparison with other etiological factors of psychopathology. Within a context of internalizing problems, the SCS or SCS-SF can better be viewed as an index of vulnerability than as a measure of protection.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalMindfulness
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Self-Compassion Scale
  • Compassionate and uncompassionate self-responding
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Neuroticism
  • Self-esteem
  • YOUTH ANXIETY MEASURE
  • PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES
  • CHILDRENS DEPRESSION
  • DSM-5 YAM-5
  • DISORDERS
  • ESTEEM
  • PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
  • PERSONALITY
  • NEUROTICISM
  • PREVALENCE

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