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Measuring Self-Compassion

Kristin Neff, PhD University of Texas at Austin

What is Self-Compassion?

Conceptualization primarily drawn from Buddhism

The three components of self-compassion (Neff, 2003)

Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgment:

Ø Treating self with care and understanding rather than harsh judgment

Ø Actively soothing and comforting oneself

Common humanity vs. Isolation

Ø  Seeing own experience as part of larger

human experience not isolating or abnormal

Ø  Recognizing that life is imperfect (us too!)

Mindfulness vs. Over-identification

Ø Avoiding extremes of suppressing or running away with painful feelings

Ø Allows us to “be” with painful feelings as they are

The Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003) 26 items Self-Kindness Subscale: I try to be understanding and patient toward those aspects of my personality I don't like. Self-Judgment Subscale: I m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies. Common Humanity Subscale: I try to see my failings as part of the human condition. Isolation Subscale: When I fail at something that's important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure. Mindfulness Subscale: When I'm feeling down I try to approach my feelings with curiosity and openness. Over-identified Subscale: When something upsets me I get carried away with my feelings.

The Self-Compassion Scale Self-Compassion







Single higher-order factor (CFA) explains inter-correlation between subscales

CFI =.91;

NNFI = .88

The Self-Compassion Scale Internal Consistency Reliability: α = .92 Test-Retest Reliability: α = .93 Convergent Validity: •  Therapist Reports (one session): r = .32 •  Partner Reports: r = .70

Short Self-Compassion Scale (Raes, Pommier & Neff, 2010) 12 items

•  Correlates r = .98 with long scale •  Internal consistency α = .86 •  Subscales not as reliable

Populations studied using the Self-Compassion Scale Ages 14 – 83 United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Korea, Turkey, Germany, Norway, Iran

Self-compassion linked to well-being Correlated with Less: Anxiety, depression, stress, substance use, perfectionism, body shame, fear of failure Correlated with More: Life satisfaction, happiness, coping skills, motivation, responsibility, health behaviors

Research on self-compassion also being done with other methods

Behavioral ratings Divorce Study (Sbarra et al. 2012) •  Observers rated 5-minute stream of consciousness video using Short-SCS •  High inter-rater reliability (.77) •  Self-compassion significantly predicted adjustment to divorce 9 months later

Mood inductions Improvement motivation – series of 4 studies (Breines et al. 2012) •  Asked to think about mistake or failure •  Writing task induced self-compassionate mood •  Task significantly increased motivation compared to controls “Please write a paragraph to yourself expressing kindness and understanding regarding the event you described above.”

Short Term Interventions Depression study (Shapira & Mongrain, 2010) •  Wrote a one-paragraph compassionate letter to themselves each day for seven days •  Significantly reduced depression (3 mo.) and increased happiness (6 mo.) compared to controls “To start writing your own letter, try to feel that part of you that can be kind and understanding of others. Think about what you would say to a friend in your position, or what a friend would say to you in this situation…”

Long Term Interventions Mindful Self-Compassion Program Chris Germer & Kristin Neff •  Randomized Wait-List Controlled Trial (Neff & Germer, 2012) •  8-week program, 2.5 hours a week •  Uses meditation, informal practices, experiential exercises, interpersonal dialogues, homework

Percent increase  in  self-­‐compassion,    mindfulness,  and  compassion   ($"# (!"# '$"# '!"# &$"# &!"# %$"# %!"# $"# !"#

+ )*+#


3425# *0.6708#

*012+# *P <  .05  

2 (Group)  X  2  (Time)  Repeated  Measures  ANOVAs  

Percent decrease  in  depression,  anxiety,  stress,   and  emo;onal  avoidance   &$"# &!"# %$"#

6-)7# 83,/039#

%!"# $"# !"#





*P <  .05  

2 (Group)  X  2  (Time)  Repeated  Measures  ANOVAs  

Percent increase  in  social  connectedness,    life  sa;sfac;on,  and  happiness   &$"# &!"# %$"#

4536# '()07(8#

%!"# $"# !"#




*P <  .05  

2 (Group)  X  2  (Time)  Repeated  Measures  ANOVAs    

All well-­‐being  gains  maintained  over  ;me   &#$" &" %#$" %" !#$" !" '()*+),+" -))."%" -))."/" '0,+*+),+" /"10"


2"3)4(" p’s < .05

Journal articles and dissertations examining self-compassion (using Google Scholar) 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011/2

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