Category: Adult Anxiety - Social

PS10- #A10 - Benefits of Being Socially Self-Compassionate: Effects of Social Self-Compassion on Positive Mood and Beliefs About the Capacity to Change

Saturday, Nov 18
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Compassion / Empathy | Social Relationships | Social Anxiety

The Social Self-Compassion Scale (SSCS; Flett & Kocovski) was created in order to assess the degree to which individuals tend to exhibit warmth and understanding towards themselves when committing perceived social blunders among others. The SSCS was created by adapting items from the Short-form Self-Compassion Scale (SCS-SF: Raes, Pommier, Neff, & Van Gucht, 2011). For instance, an example of an SSCS item is “I try to be understanding and patient towards myself when I fall short of social expectations.” A series of online studies have shown that the SSCS shows incremental validity above the SCS-SF, as it uniquely predicts outcomes such as feelings of mattering to others, social anxiety, and perceived social self-efficacy.


The current research tests the effects of social self-compassion through use of an experimental manipulation. First, participants (N = 91) described a social mistake they felt primarily responsible for. Then, using a writing exercise paradigm based on Breines and Chen (2012), participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions and either: wrote about the social mistake from a self-compassionate perspective (self-compassion condition; n = 31), wrote about their other positive qualities (self-esteem condition; n = 30), or received no further writing exercise (control condition; n = 30). Afterwards, all participants answered questions pertaining to their mood state, their beliefs about whether the social mistake reflected their personality or the situation itself, as well as their motivation to correct (and not repeat) their past social mistake. Quantitative data have been analyzed, and written responses are in the process of being coded.


In line with our hypotheses, there was a significant difference across conditions on positive affect (F(2,88) = 5.43, p < .01), with the self-compassion condition reporting higher levels of positive affect compared to both the self-esteem condition (t(59) = 3.02, p < .01) and the control condition (t(59) = 2.25, p =.03). This effect remained significant when controlling for baseline levels of state anxiety, state social anxiety, and social self-compassion, but there were no differences on negative affect. These findings suggest that there are short-term, temporary benefits in bolstering one’s sense of social self-compassion. From the written responses, it is expected that compared to the other two groups, those in the self-compassion condition will report greater beliefs relating to their capacity for change, and higher motivation to correct (and not repeat) their past social mistake. Overall, this research aims to demonstrate that social self-compassion can be induced and that there are benefits in doing so. 

Alison L. Flett

Graduate Student
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario

Nancy L. Kocovski

Wilfrid Laurier University