When ‘negativity’ becomes obstructive: a novel exploration of the two-factor model of the Self-Compassion Scale and a comparison of self-compassion and self-criticism interventions
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Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Submission date: 2019-10-23
Final revision date: 2020-09-27
Acceptance date: 2020-10-06
Online publication date: 2020-11-09
Publication date: 2020-12-18
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2020;8(4):289-300
Self-compassion is a tendency to respond to personal feelings of distress in a kind and understanding way, and to become aware that facing difficulties and adversity is part of a common human experience that is shared by all hu-mans. The Self Compassion Scale (SCS) includes negative items measuring self-judgement, isolation and over-identification, which are at the opposite end of the spectrum to self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Some researchers have argued that the link between self-compassion and psychopathology is inflated by the inclu-sion of these negative items. Moving away from factorial structures and advanced statistics used in recent research, we present a different way of exploring the conceptualisation of self-compassion theory and the way it is measured.

Participants and procedure:
Study 1 set out to support the inclusion (or exclusion) of the negative items within the SCS, by investigating the cor-relation between the negative items and the positive items altered to reflect the exact opposite of the original posi-tive items of the scale (i.e., self-unkindness, disjointed humanity, and mindlessness). Study 2 was an experiment exploring differences between self-compassion and self-criticism 5-minute interventions on state self-compassion, state mindfulness and state anxiety. The interventions were separated to represent the positive or negative ele-ments, rather than a mixture of the interventions.

If the main argumentation against the use of the overall score of the self-compassion scale is the inflation of the neg-ative items, then the results support the inclusion of the negative items within the SCS, as the altered positive items show a similar inflation to the original negative items when observing a significant positive relationship. No differ-ences were found between the two interventions and the overall scores; nevertheless, mindfulness and self-judgment subscales appeared to significantly change only for the self-compassion group.

While the debate around the self-compassion scale continues, the literature emphasizing self-criticism does not translate into inflation as suggested, and does not propose effective practices. Explanations of findings, limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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