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04-11-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2016 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2016

A Protective Factor Against Mental Health Problems in Youths? A Critical Note on the Assessment of Self-Compassion

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2016
Peter Muris


Self-compassion, which refers to the tendency of being kind and understanding to oneself when confronted with personal failings and difficulties, is increasingly investigated as a protective factor within the context of mental health problems. In this invited paper, I will briefly introduce the concept of self-compassion and give an overview of the research that has examined its relationship with psychopathology in youth. Then I will make my critical point regarding the assessment of self-compassion: the scales that are currently used for measuring this construct include a large number of reversely scored, negative items that measure the precise opposite of having compassion with oneself. I present evidence (partly on the basis of own data) that these negative items do not reflect the true protective nature of self-compassion and tend to inflate the relation with psychopathology. My recommendation is to remove the negative items from the scales and to assess self-compassion by means of a set of items that truly reflect its protective nature.

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