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Self-Compassion and Coping: a Meta-Analysis

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Self-compassion, a positive and caring attitude toward oneself, has been identified as an important correlate of coping in stressful situations. High self-compassion is related to higher use of adaptive and less maladaptive coping in demanding or painful situations. However, estimates of these relations in terms of specific adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies have remained inconclusive. Therefore, the present meta-analysis investigates the relation between self-compassion and different forms of adaptive and maladaptive coping. It also takes into account potential moderators such as age, gender, and regional background.


A systematic literature search resulted in k = 136 samples with an overall sample size of N = 38,913. Random-effects models were used to integrate the z-transformed Pearson correlation coefficients.


Analyses yielded a positive correlation between self-compassion and adaptive coping (r = .306) and a negative correlation between self-compassion and maladaptive coping (r = − .500). The association of self-compassion with emotional approach coping was positive (r = .340), as was the association with problem-focused coping (r = .205). Participants’ age appeared to be a significant moderator of the relation between self-compassion and coping.


Self-compassion is important for understanding the mechanisms involved in coping with stress and demanding life events. The size and direction of correlations depend on the coping strategies considered, with protective effects of self-compassion with respect to maladaptive coping being the most pronounced. Further research should examine the relation between self-compassion and coping in more detail and focus on additional moderators.

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The authors would like to thank all authors providing their data for this meta-analysis.


This study was funded by a scholarship from the Potsdam Graduate School to the first author.

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Authors and Affiliations



CE designed the meta-analysis, did the literature search, provided the data analyses and wrote the paper; AV collaborated with the design and writing of the study, assisted with the literature search and data analyses; MSA assisted to design the study, collaborated in the writing of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

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Correspondence to Christina Ewert.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article (meta-analysis) does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

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No additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants.

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Supplementary Information


Supplementary materials for meta-analysis is provided at: (DOCX 12.7 kb)

References to and relevant data from the studies included in the meta-analysis are given in Appendix D (see supplementary materials).

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Ewert, C., Vater, A. & Schröder-Abé, M. Self-Compassion and Coping: a Meta-Analysis. Mindfulness 12, 1063–1077 (2021).

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