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Psychometric Properties of the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) in an African American Clinical Sample

  • Huaiyu Zhang
  • Lu Dong
  • Natalie N. Watson-Singleton
  • Nicholas Tarantino
  • Erika R. Carr
  • Larisa V. Niles-Carnes
  • Bobbi Patterson
  • Nadine J. KaslowEmail author



Self-compassion has been recognized as a protective factor against adverse mental health outcomes. Recently, efforts have been taken to investigate the psychometric properties of a widely used measure of self-compassion, the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS). It is vital that psychometric studies include racially/ethnically diverse participants to ensure the SCS’s validity and utility among these samples.


The current study evaluated the psychometric properties of the SCS in a sample of 248 low-income African American individuals with a recent suicide attempt. Using confirmatory factor analyses, the following factor structure models of the SCS were tested: one-factor, two-factor, six-factor correlated, higher order, bifactor, and two-bifactor.


Although our confirmatory factor analyses supported model fit for three of these models (two-factor, two-bifactor, six-factor correlated), the six-factor correlated model was most consistent with theoretical and practical applications of the SCS in this specific demographic and clinical sample. The SCS also demonstrated good internal consistency, as well as strong convergent validity with measures of suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms, self-criticism, and mindfulness.


These results suggest that the SCS is a psychometrically sound tool for assessing the construct of self-compassion among a low-income, clinical African American sample.


African Americans Self-compassion Psychometric evaluation Validation 


Author Contributions

HZ: designed and executed the study and wrote the introduction and part of the results. LD: analyzed and re-analyzed the data and wrote most of the results. NNWS: wrote sections of the introduction, results, and discussion, and worked on revisions. NT: wrote sections of the discussion. ERC: wrote most of the methods. LVNC: wrote part of the methods and coordinated data collection. BP: provided input on study development and implementation, as well as all components of manuscript preparation. NJK: PI of the study and reviewed and edited the paper.

Funding Information

This research was supported by a grant from Emory’s University Research Council (Group interventions for Suicidal African American men and women) awarded to the last author (Kaslow).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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. The study was approved by the Emory University Institutional Review Board and the Grady Health System Research Oversight Committee.

Informed Consent

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


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.University of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Spelman CollegeAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  5. 5.Yale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Grady HospitalEmory School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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