Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

The Social Self-Compassion Scale (SSCS): Development, Validity, and Associations with Indices of Well-Being, Distress, and Social Anxiety

  • Original Article
  • Published:
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Self-compassion refers to being kind and understanding towards oneself following adverse life experiences. Although it is valuable to focus on self-compassion in general, there is merit in also considering specific types of self-compassion. Accordingly, the current research describes a domain-specific measure of being self-compassionate in response to interpersonal adversities and challenges. The Social Self-Compassion Scale (SSCS) assesses self-compassion in the context of social stress (e.g., being criticized, excluded, committing a social blunder). The psychometric properties and factor structure of this domain-specific scale are explored using three university student samples (N = 719). We also report normative data from a community sample of people seeking help for shyness and social anxiety. As hypothesized, scores on the SSCS were associated negatively with social anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, and shame, and they were associated positively with social self-efficacy and well-being as well as indices tapping mattering and mindfulness. Moreover, a series of regression analyses showed that levels of social self-compassion often accounted for significant unique variance in key outcomes beyond variance attributable to general self-compassion. Collectively, results support the assessment of individual differences in social self-compassion and the utility of an explicit emphasis on how people react to themselves following challenging and difficult interpersonal experiences. The implications are discussed along with key directions for future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Abbott, R. A., Ploubidis, G. B., Huppert, F. A., Kuh, D., Wadsworth, M. E., & Croudace, T. J. (2006). Psychometric evaluation and predictive validity of Ryff’s psychological well-being items in a UK birth cohort sample of women. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 4, 76.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Alfonso, V. C., Allison, D. B., Rader, D. E., & Gorman, B. S. (1996). The Extended Satisfaction With Life Scale: development and psychometric properties. Social Indicators Research, 38, 275–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ames, D. R., Rose, P., & Anderson, C. P. (2006). The NPI-16 as a short measure of narcissism. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(4), 440–450.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andrews, B., Qian, M., & Valentine, J. D. (2002). Predicting depressive symptoms with a new measure of shame: the experience of shame scale. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41(1), 29–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Angus, L. E., & Kagan, F. (2013). Assessing client self-narrative change in emotion-focused therapy of depression: an intensive single case analysis. Psychotherapy, 50(4), 525–534.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bagby, R. M., Parker, J. D. A., Joffe, R. T., & Buis, T. (1994). Reconstruction and validation of the depressive experiences questionnaire. Assessment, 1(1), 59–68.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Barnard, L. K., & Curry, J. F. (2011). Self-compassion: conceptualizations, correlates, & interventions. Review of General Psychology, 15(4), 289–303.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 238–246.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blackie, R. A., & Kocovski, N. L. (2018). Forgive and let go: effect of self-compassion on post-event processing in social anxiety. Mindfulness, 9, 654–663.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blackie, R. A., & Kocovski, N. L. (2019). Trait self-compassion as a buffer against post-event processing following performance feedback. Mindfulness, 10, 923–932.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boersma, K., Håkanson, A., Salomonsson, E., & Johansson, I. (2015). Compassion focused therapy to counteract shame, self-criticism and isolation. A replicated single case experimental study for individuals with social anxiety. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 45(2), 89–98.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bolger, N., DeLongis, A., Kessler, R. C., & Schilling, E. A. (1989). Effects of daily stress on mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 808–818.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Breines, J. G., & Chen, S. (2012). Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9), 1133–1143.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Carleton, R. N., Collimore, K. C., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2007). Social anxiety and fear of negative evaluation: construct validity of the BFNE-II. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21(1), 131–141.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cattell, R. B. (1966). The scree test for the number of factors. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 1(2), 245–276.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chemers, M. M., Hu, L., & Garcia, B. F. (2001). Academic self-efficacy and first year college student performance and adjustment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 55–64.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Comrey, A. L., & Lee, H. B. (1992). A first course in factor analysis. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Connor, K. M., Davidson, J. R. T., Churchill, L. E., Sherwood, A., Foa, E., & Weisler, R. H. (2000). Psychometric properties of the social phobia inventory (SPIN): new self-rating scale. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 176, 379–386.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cox, B. J., Fleet, C., & Stein, M. B. (2004). Self-criticism and social phobia in the US national comorbidity survey. Journal of Affective Disorders, 82, 227–234.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Downey, G., & Feldman, S. I. (1996). Implications of rejection sensitivity for intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1327–1343.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fabrigar, L. R., Wegener, D. T., MacCallum, R. C., & Strahan, E. J. (1999). Evaluating the use of exploratory factor analysis in psychological research. Psychological Methods, 4(3), 272–299.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flett, G. L. (2018). The psychology of mattering: understanding the human need to be significant. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press/Elsevier.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Garshowitz, M., & Martin, T. R. (1997). Personality, negative social interactions, and depressive symptoms. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 29, 28–37.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flett, G. L., Flett, A. L., & Wekerle, C. (2015). A conceptual analysis of interpersonal resilience as a key resilience domain: understanding the ability to overcome child sexual abuse and other adverse interpersonal contexts. International Journal of Child and Youth Resilience, 3(1), 4–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flett, G. L., Khan, A., & Su, C. (2019). Mattering and psychological well-being in college and university students: a review and recommendations for campus-based initiatives. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17, 667–680.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flett, G. L., Burdo, R., & Nepon, T. (in press). Mattering, insecure attachment, rumination, and self-criticism in distress among university students. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

  • Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert, P. (2010). Compassion focused therapy. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert, P. (2014). The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53, 6–41.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hair Jr., J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., & Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate data analysis (6th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall International.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harwood, E. M., & Kocovski, N. L. (2017). Self-compassion induction reduces anticipatory anxiety among socially anxious students. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1544–1551.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heath, P. J., Brenner, R. E., Lannin, D. G., & Vogel, D. L. (2018). Self-compassion moderates the relationship of perceived public and anticipated self-stigma of seeking help. Stigma and Health, 3(1), 65–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heatherton, T. F., & Polivy, J. (1991). Development and validation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 895–910.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janke, W., Erdmann, G., & Kallus, W. (1985). Streßverarbeitungsfragebogen (SVF) nach W. Janke, G. Erdmann und W. Boucsein [Coping with Stress Questionnaire after W. Janke, G. Erdmann, and W. Boucsein]. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

  • Johnson, E. A., & O'Brien, K. A. (2013). Self-compassion soothes the savage ego-threat system: effects on negative affect, shame, rumination, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32(9), 939–963.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khanlou, N. (2019). Post-secondary student mental health and well-being: a systems and intersectionality informed approach. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17, 415–417.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kirk, B. A., Schutte, N. S., & Hine, D. W. (2008). Development and preliminary validation of an emotional self-efficacy scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(5), 432–436.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kocovski, N. L., Fleming, J. E., Blackie, R. A., MacKenzie, M. B., & Rose, A. L. (2019). Self- help for social anxiety: randomized controlled trial comparing a mindfulness and acceptance-based approach with a control group. Behavior Therapy, 50(4), 696–709.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Koszycki, D., Thake, J., Mavounza, C., Daoust, J., Taljaard, M., & Bradwejn, J. (2016). Preliminary investigation of a mindfulness-based intervention for social anxiety disorder that integrates compassion meditation and mindful exposure. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(5), 363–374.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kotera, Y., & Ting, S.H. (2019). Positive psychology of Malaysian university students: impacts on engagement, motivation, self-compassion, and well-being on mental health. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

  • Krieger, T., Altenstein, D., Baettig, I., Doerig, N., & Holtforth, M. G. (2013). Self-compassion in depression: associations with depressive symptoms, rumination, and avoidance in depressed outpatients. Behavior Therapy, 44(3), 501–513.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lakey, B., & Rhodes, G. (2015). The social regulation of affect and self-esteem among opiate-dependent adults. Personal Relationships, 22(1), 111–121.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lakey, B., Tardiff, T. A., & Drew, J. B. (1994). Negative social interactions: assessment and relations to social support, cognition, and psychological distress. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13, 42–62.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lander, A. (2012). Towards the incorporation of forgiveness therapy in healing the wounds of eating disorders: a case study in self-forgiveness. Clinical Case Studies, 11(2), 119–139.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Batts Allen, A., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self- compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 887–904.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Leitner, J. B., Hehman, E., Deegan, M. P., & Jones, J. M. (2014). Adaptive disengagement buffers self-esteem from negative social feedback. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(11), 1435–1450.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: comparison of the depression anxiety stress scales (DASS) with the beck depression and anxiety inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335–343.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marcus, F. M., & Rosenberg, M. (1987). Mattering: Its measurement and significance in everyday life. Boston: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marsh, H. W. (1992). Content specificity of relations between academic achievement and academic self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(1), 35–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moscovitch, D. A., & Huyder, V. (2011). The negative self-portrayal scale: development, validation, and application to social anxiety. Behavior Therapy, 42(2), 183–196.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K.D., & Dahm, K.A. (2015). Self-compassion: What it is, what it does, and how it relates to mindfulness. In Ostafin, B. D., Robinson, M. D., & Meier, B. P. (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness and self-regulation (p. 121–137). Springer Science + Business Media.

  • Neff, K. D., Rude, S. S., & Kirkpatrick, K. L. (2007). An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 908–916.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K.D., Whittaker, T.A., & Karl, A. (2017). Examining the factor structure of the self-compassion scale in four distinct populations: is the use of a total scale score justified? Journal of Personality Assessment, 1–12.

  • Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self-compassion scale. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 18(3), 250–255.

    Google Scholar 

  • Raque-Bogdan, T., Ericson, S. K., Jackson, J., Martin, H. M., & Bryan, N. A. (2011). Attachment and mental and physical health: self-compassion and mattering as mediators. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(2), 272–278.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton: Princeton. University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenberg, M., & McCullough, B. C. (1981). Mattering: Inferred significance and mental health among adolescents. Research in Community & Mental Health, 2, 163–182.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russell, D., Peplau, L. A., & Ferguson, M. L. (1978). Developing a measure of loneliness. Journal of Personality Assessment, 42, 290–294.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shahar, B., Doron, G., & Szepsenwol, O. (2015). Childhood maltreatment, shame-proneness an self-criticism in social anxiety disorder: a sequential mediational model. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 22(6), 570–579.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smart, L. M., Peters, J. R., & Baer, R. A. (2016). Development and validation of a measure of self-critical rumination. Assessment, 23(3), 321–332.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, H. M., & Betz, N. E. (2000). Development and validation of a scale of perceived social self-efficacy. Journal of Career Assessment, 8(3), 283–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vettese, L. C., Dyer, C. E., Li, W. L., & Wekerle, C. (2011). Does self-compassion mitigate the association between childhood maltreatment and later emotion regulation difficulties? A preliminary investigation. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9(5), 480–491.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vigna, A. J., Poehlmann-Tynan, J., & Koenig, B. W. (2018). Does self-compassion facilitate resilience to stigma? A school-based study of sexual and gender minority youth. Mindfulness, 9, 914–928.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walach, H., Buchheld, N., Buttenmüller, V., Kleinknecht, N., & Schmidt, S. (2006). Measuring mindfulness--the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI). Personality and Individual Differences, 40(8), 1543–1555.

    Google Scholar 

  • Werner, K. H., Jazaieri, H., Goldin, P. R., Ziv, M., Heimberg, R. G., & Gross, J. J. (2012). Self- compassion and social anxiety disorder. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 25(5), 543–558.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alison L. Rose.

Ethics declarations

All three self-report studies involved surveying undergraduate participants at an Ontario (Canada) postsecondary institution following receipt of formal approval from the ethics review board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Consent to Participate

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the studies.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendix. Social Self-Compassion Scale

Appendix. Social Self-Compassion Scale

  1. 1.

    When I fail to do the right thing in a social situation, I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.

  2. 2.

    I try to be understanding and patient towards myself when I fall short of my social expectations.

  3. 3.

    When I make a mistake in public, I try to take a balanced view of the situation.

  4. 4.

    When I’m feeling anxious in a social setting, I feel like other people are probably more relaxed than I am.

  5. 5.

    I try to see my failings in social situations as part of the human condition.

  6. 6.

    When I’m having a hard time in social situations, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.

  7. 7.

    When something upsets me in social situations, I try to keep my emotions in balance.

  8. 8.

    When I fail to do the right thing in a social situation, I tend to feel alone in my failure.

  9. 9.

    When I’m feeling socially anxious, I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that is wrong.

  10. 10.

    When I’m feeling socially inadequate, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.

  11. 11.

    I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own social flaws and inadequacies.

  12. 12.

    I’m intolerant and impatient towards myself when socially anxious.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rose, A.L., Kocovski, N.L. The Social Self-Compassion Scale (SSCS): Development, Validity, and Associations with Indices of Well-Being, Distress, and Social Anxiety. Int J Ment Health Addiction 19, 2091–2109 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00302-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00302-3

Keywords

Navigation