Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 88 Issue 4 (December 2015), Pages 351-480

Demonstrating mood repair with a situation‐based measure of self‐compassion and self‐criticism (pages 351-365)

Objectives

The clinical significance of self‐criticism and self‐compassion has prompted the development of questionnaires assessing these constructs. However, there is a lack of measures assessing their interaction within specific contexts and potential involvement in mood repair processes.

Design

To rectify this, we developed the Self‐Compassion and Self‐Criticism Scales (SCCS), based on responses to specific scenarios, and examined its psychometric properties in an online survey and an experimental situation.

Method

In study 1, standard psychometric procedures were used to investigate the reliability and validity of the SCCS. In study 2, an experimental challenge involving a difficult language task was used to test its sensitivity to change.

Results

In study 1, exploratory factor analysis (n = 413) showed a clear two‐factor structure of the SCCS denoting two orthogonal scales, with high internal validity (α ≥ .87). Correlations between the SCCS and existing measures also demonstrated appropriate convergent validity. Study 2 (n = 90) provided preliminary evidence that the SCCS can detect changes in self‐appraisals. Participants receiving no performance feedback from the challenge task showed reduced state self‐criticism and increased state self‐compassion, demonstrating mood repair.

Conclusions

The SCCS has promise as a situational measure of self‐compassion and self‐criticism.

Practitioner points

  • In the context of specific problem situations, clients' levels of self‐criticism and self‐compassion may well be orthogonal and can be assessed with the SCCS.
  • In setting treatment goals and assessing treatment outcome, it may be helpful to target both self‐compassion and self‐criticism separately.

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