The Process of Science: A Critical Evaluation of more than 15 Years of Research on Self-Compassion with the Self-Compassion Scale

Peter Muris*, Henry Otgaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Objectives Falsification is regarded as a cornerstone of science. Anomalous data—even when highly credible—do not always
lead to an adjustment of theory. In this paper, we discuss reasons for why current theories are not modified despite a corpus of
work falsifying (parts of) the theory, using the case of self-compassion as an example. During more than 15 years, this psychological construct has been heralded as a protective factor against stress and emotional adversity.
Methods A search in the Web of Science database using [SELF-COMPASSION in title] as the search term was conducted and
found empirical papers were critically evaluated.
Results Good evidence abounds indicating that the theoretical definition of self-compassion is limited and that as a consequence
its proper assessment with the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) is obscured as the measure is contaminated by psychopathological
characteristics. Surprisingly, few researchers take these critical notes into account when conducting and reporting new studies on
this topic. We argue that this might be due to all kinds of (conscious and unconscious) tendencies and cognitive biases of
researchers and clinicians.
Conclusion Research lines are not always guided by solid data but strongly determined by social factors. We close by providing a
recommendation for researchers regarding the assessment of self-compassion including the continued use of the SCS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1482
Number of pages14
JournalMindfulness
Volume11
Issue number6
Early online date7 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Self-compassion
  • Process of science
  • Anomalous data
  • Cognitive biases
  • PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES
  • GENDER-DIFFERENCES
  • CONSTRUCT-VALIDATION
  • ANOMALOUS DATA
  • METAANALYSIS
  • MINDFULNESS
  • SYMPTOMS
  • VALIDITY
  • ANXIETY
  • VERSION

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