Do Self-Compassion and Self-Coldness Distinctly Relate to Distress and Well-Being? A Theoretical Model of Self-Relating

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Abstract

The current research tested a theoretical model of self-relating that examined the unique relationships of self-compassion and self-coldness with distress and well-being. Self-coldness has recently been identified as theoretically distinct from self-compassion, rather than part of a unitary self-compassion construct. As such, the incremental value of self-compassion and self-coldness on clinically relevant outcomes is unclear. Therefore, the current research tested a theoretical model of the unique relationships of self-compassion and self-coldness and both distress and well-being among university students (N = 457) and community adults (N = 794), as well as interactions between these 2 constructs. Structural equation modeling results in both samples revealed that self-compassion was uniquely related to well-being (βs = .36–.43), whereas self-coldness was uniquely related to distress (βs = −.34) and well-being (βs = .65–.66). Consistent with the Theory of Social Mentalities, across samples self-compassion more strongly related to well-being, whereas self-coldness more strongly related to distress. Self-compassion did not demonstrate a unique direct relationship with distress, but it did buffer the relationship between self-coldness and distress in both samples and the relationship between self-coldness and well-being in the community sample. Overall, results suggest that clinicians would benefit from tailoring the use of self-compassion and self-coldness interventions. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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