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The Correlation Between Self-compassion and Depression Revisited: a Three-Level Meta-analysis

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This three-level meta-analysis aimed at examining the correlation between self-compassion and depression using culturally diverse samples. We also analyzed self-compassion into its sub-components and checked the cross-cultural consistency of the findings.


We reviewed 271 articles that measured self-compassion according to Neff’s conceptualization. A three-level meta-analytical framework, which partitioned between-study heterogeneity into within- and between-country levels, was used for all analyses. Meta-regression analyses were used to examine the moderating role of culture, according to the revised Minkov-Hofstede model.


Our findings indicated that self-compassion was negatively correlated with depression with a large effect size (r =  − 0.53). This effect size was closer to the correlation between the negative components of self-compassion and depression, while less close to that of the positive components of self-compassion. The distribution of between-study heterogeneity shared a similar pattern, with positive components of self-compassion showing higher variances across societies. There was evidence showing that the relationships between self-kindness and self-judgment with depression varied across societies varying in flexibility and individualism.


The effect size and cross-cultural consistency of the correlation between self-compassion and depression vary across different sub-components of self-compassion. Future cross-cultural analyses of self-compassion should pay more attention to this divergence.

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We wish to thank Prof. Michael Harris Bond for his important comments in improving this study.


The work of the third author (Michael Minkov) was supported by Estonian Research Council grant PRG380 and the Higher School of Economics Basic Research Program.

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XL: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, writing—original draft, writing—review and editing. HW: conceptualization, methodology, writing—review and editing. MM: conceptualization, writing—review and editing.

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Correspondence to Haobi Wang.

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Lou, X., Wang, H. & Minkov, M. The Correlation Between Self-compassion and Depression Revisited: a Three-Level Meta-analysis. Mindfulness 13, 2128–2139 (2022).

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