Self-compassion is a multi-dimensional construct; however, little is known about the multi-dimensionality because a composite self-compassion score is typically used. The purpose of this study was to explore profiles of the self-compassion dimensions using latent profile analysis.
Three healthy, independent samples completed assessments of self-compassion and psychological inflexibility (sample 1 N = 419), perceived stress (sample 2 N = 384), or perceived stress, anxiety, and depression (sample 3 N = 509).
Similar profile patterns emerged across three independent samples. Profile differences in composite self-compassion revealed different underlying dimensional patterns that resulted in similar composite self-compassion scores. In addition, some profiles with different composite scores had similar levels of psychological inflexibility or perceived stress.
Although there is general support for the use of a composite score representing the relative balance of self-compassion, limitations to representing self-compassion with a single score are highlighted. Key limitations are clarity of what a composite score captures, specific mechanisms underlying the construct, and targeted intervention implications.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Similar content being viewed by others
Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. (2014). Auxiliary variables in mixture modeling: Three-step approaches using Mplus. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 21(3), 329–341.
Bauer, D. J., & Curran, P. J. (2003). Over extraction of latent trajectory classes: Much ado about nothing? Reply to Rindskopf (2003), Muthén (2003), and Cudeck and Henly (2003). Psychological Methods, 8, 384–393. https://doi.org/10.1037/1082-989x.8.3.384.
Bibeau, M., Dionne, F., & Leblanc, J. (2015). Can compassion meditation contribute to the development of psychotherapists’ empathy? A review. Mindfulness, 7, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0439-y.
Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., Waltz, T., & Zettle, R. D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the acceptance and action questionnaire II: A revised measure of psychological inflexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42, 676–688. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2011.03.007.
Brenner, R. E., Health, P. J., Vogel, D. L., & Credé, M. (2017). Two is more valid than one: examining the factor structure of the self-compassion scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 696–707. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000211.
Celeux, G., & Soromenho, G. (1996). An entropy criterion for assessing the number of clusters in a mixture model. Journal of Classification, 13, 195–212. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf01246098.
Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 386–396. https://doi.org/10.2307/2136404.
Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2010). Latent class and latent transition analysis: with applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Costa, J., Marôco, J., Pinto-Gouveia, J., Ferreira, C., & Castilho, P. (2016). Validation of the psychometric properties of the Self-Compassion Scale. Testing the factorial validity and factorial invariance of the measure among borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorder and general populations. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 23, 460–468. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.1974.
Falconer, C. J., King, J. A., & Brewin, C. R. (2015). Demonstrating mood repair with a situation-based measure of self-compassion and self-criticism. Psychology and Psychotherapy, 88, 351–365. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12056.
Gibson, W. A. (1959). Three multivariate models: factor analysis, latent structure analysis, and latent profile analysis. Psychometrika, 24, 229–252. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02289845.
Gilbert, P. (2005). Compassion: conceptualisations, research and use in psychotherapy. London: Routledge.
Gilbert, P. (2007). Psychotherapy and counseling for depression. Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446279830.
Gilbert, P. (2009). The compassionate mind: A new approach to life's challenges. London: Constable & Robinson.
Gilbert, P., & Irons, C. (2005). Focused therapies and compassionate mind training for shame and self-attacking. In P. Gilbert (Ed.), Compassion: Conceptualizations, research and use in psychotherapy (pp. 263–325). London: Routledge.
Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Matos, M., & Rivis, A. (2011). Fears of compassion: development of three self-report measures. Psychology and Psychotherapy, 84(3), 239–255. https://doi.org/10.1348/147608310x526511.
Gudicha, D. W., Tekle, F. B., & Vermunt, J. K. (2016). Power and sample size computation for Wald tests in latent class models. Journal of Classification, 33, 30–51. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00357-016-9199-1.
Henry, J. D., & Crawford, J. R. (2005). The short-form version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21): construct validity and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 227–239. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466505x29657.
Körner, A., Coroiu, A., Copeland, L., Gomez-Garibello, C., Albani, C., Zenger, M., & Brähler, E. (2015). The role of self-compassion in buffering symptoms of depression in the general population. PLoS One, 10(10), e0136598. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136598.
Kriegar, 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, 501–513. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2013.04.004.
Longe, O., Maratos, F. A., Gilbert, P., Evans, G., Volker, F., Rockliff, H., & Rippon, G. (2010). Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage, 49, 1849–1856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.019.
López, A., Sanderman, R., Smink, A., Zhang, Y., van Sonderen, E., Ranchor, A., & Schroevers, M. J. (2015). A reconsideration of the Self-Compassion Scale’s total score: self-compassion versus self-criticism. PLoS One, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132940.
MacBeth, A., & Gumley, A. (2012). Exploring compassion: a meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology. Clinical Psychology Review, 32, 545–552. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.003.
Marsh, H. W., Ludtke, O., Trautweign, U., & Morin, A. J. S. (2009). Classical latent profile analysis of academic self-concept dimensions: synergy of person- and variable-centered approaches to theoretical models of self-concept. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 16, 191–225. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705510902751010.
Marshall, E.-J., & Brockman, R. N. (2016). The relationships between psychological flexibility, self-compassion, and emotional well-being. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 30, 60–72. https://doi.org/10.1891/0889-8322.214.171.124.
Morin, A. J. S., & Wang, J. C. K. (2016). A gentle introduction to mixture modeling using physical fitness data. In N. Ntoumanis, & N. Myers (Eds.), An introduction to intermediate and advanced statistical analyses for sport and exercise scientists (pp. 183–210). London: Wiley.
Muris, P., & Petrocchi, N. (2017). Protection or vulnerability? A meta-analysis of the relations between the positive and negative components of self-compassion and psychopathology. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24, 373–383. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.2005.
Muthen, B. O. (2001). Latent variable mixture modeling. In G. Marcoulides & R. Schumacker (Eds.), New developments and techniques in structure equation modeling (pp. 1–33). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Muthén, L.K., Muthén, B.O. (2007) Online comment Re: what is a good value of entropy? Retrieved from http://www.statmodel.com/discussion/messages/13/2562.html?1237580237.
Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860309032.
Neff, K. D. (2016). Does self-compassion entail reduced self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification? A response to Muris, Otgaar, & Petrocchi (2016). Mindfulness, 7, 791–797. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0531-y.
Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. (2017). Self-compassion and psychological well-being. In E.M. Seppala, E. Simon-Thomas, S.L. Brown, C.D. Cameron, & J. Doty (Eds.) Oxford handbook of compassion science. New York: Oxford University Press.
Neff, K. D., Long, P., Knox, M., Davidson, O., Kuchar, A., Costigan, A., Williamson, Z., Rohleder, N., Tóth-Király, I., & Breines, J. (2018). The forest and the trees: examining the association of self-compassion and its positive and negative components with psychological functioning. Self and Identity, 17, 627–645. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2018.1436587.
Neff, K. D., Tóth-Király, I., Yarnell, L. M., Arimitsu, K., Castilho, P., Ghorbani, N., Guo, H. X., Jameson, H. K., Hupfeld, J., Hutz, C. S., Kotsou, I., Kyeong, W. L., Marin, J. M., Sirois, F. M., Souza, L. K., Svendsen, L. J., Wilkinson, R. B., & Mantzios, M. (2019). Examining the factor structure of the Self-Compassion Scale in 20 diverse samples: Support for use of a total score and six subscale scores. Psychological Assessment, 31, 27–45. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000629.
Paulhus, D. L. (1991). Measurement and control of response bias. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measurement of personality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 17–59). San Diego: Academic Press.
Petrocchi, N., Dentale, F., & Gilbert, P. (2018). Self-reassurance, not self-esteem, serves as a buffer between self-criticism and depressive symptoms. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 92(3), 394–406. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12186.
Phillips, W. J. (2019). Self-compassion mindsets: the components of the self-compassion scale operate as a balanced system within individuals. Current Psychology, Online, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00452-1.
Porges, S. W. (2007). The polyvagal perspective. Biological Psychology, 74, 116–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.009.
Rockcliff, H., Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Lightman, S., & Glover, D. (2008). A pilot exploration of heart rate variability and salivary cortisol responses to compassion-focused imagery. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 5, 132–139.
Shapiro, S. L., Astin, J. A., Bishop, S. R., & Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health care professionals: results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12, 164–176. https://doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.12.2.164.
Tein, J. Y., Coxe, S., & Cham, H. (2013). Statistical power to detect the correct number of classes in latent profile analysis. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 20, 640–657. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705511.2013.824781.
Vermunt, J. K., & Magidson, J. (2002). Latent class cluster analysis. In J. A. Hagenaars & A. L. McCutcheon (Eds.) Applied latent class analysis (pp. 89–106). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Williams, M. J., Dalgleish, T., Karl, A., & Kuyken, W. (2014). Examining the factor structures of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Self-Compassion Scale. Psychological Assessment, 26, 407–418. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035566.
Yang, C. (2006). Evaluating latent class analysis models in qualitative phenotype identification. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, 50, 1090–1104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csda.2004.11.004.
This study has been reviewed and approved by the Washington State University Institutional Review Board and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All participants gave informed consent prior to inclusion in this study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Ullrich-French, S., Cox, A.E. The Use of Latent Profiles to Explore the Multi-dimensionality of Self-compassion. Mindfulness 11, 1483–1499 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01365-y