, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 264–274 | Cite as

The Self-Compassion Scale is a Valid and Theoretically Coherent Measure of Self-Compassion

  • Kristin D. NeffEmail author


Recently, the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) has been criticized for problems with psychometric validity. Further, the use of an overall self-compassion score that includes items representing the lack of self-compassion has been called into question. I argue that the SCS is consistent with my definition of self-compassion, which I see as a dynamic balance between the compassionate versus uncompassionate ways that individuals emotionally respond to pain and failure (with kindness or judgment), cognitively understand their predicament (as part of the human experience or as isolating), and pay attention to suffering (in a mindful or over-identified manner). A summary of new empirical evidence is provided using a bi-factor analysis, which indicates that at least 90 % of the reliable variance in SCS scores can be explained by an overall self-compassion factor in five different populations, justifying the use of a total scale score. Support for a six-factor structure to the SCS was also found; however, suggesting the scale can be used in a flexible manner depending on the interests of researchers. I also discuss the issue of whether a two-factor model of the SCS—which collapses self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness items into a “self-compassion” factor and self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification items into a “self-criticism” factor—makes theoretical sense. Finally, I present new data showing that self-compassion training increases scores on the positive SCS subscales and decreases scores on the negative subscales, supporting the idea that self-compassion represents more compassionate and fewer uncompassionate responses to suffering.


Self-Compassion Scale SCS Subscales Self-compassion Self-criticism Factor structure Mindful Self-Compassion 



I am grateful to many people for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript, including Chris Germer, Christine Braehler, Lisa Yarnell, Anke Karl, Willem Kuyken, Shauna Shapiro, Elizabeth Pommier, and Karen Bluth.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in reported research results.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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