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21-05-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 7/2020

Mindfulness 7/2020

Insecure Striving, Self-Criticism, and Depression: the Prospective Moderating Role of Fear of Compassion from Others

Mindfulness > Uitgave 7/2020
Jemma S. Hart, James N. Kirby, Stanley R. Steindl, Robert T. Kane, Trevor G. Mazzucchelli
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Striving to avoid inferiority, fear of compassion from others, and self-criticism are all factors that have been linked to increased depressive symptoms. However, less is known about the mechanisms of their relationship with depression, and even less about their relationship and potential interaction with each other. This study aimed to investigate the potential moderating role of fear of compassion on the relationship between self-criticism and depression, and insecure striving and depression.


A longitudinal survey design with non-probability sampling was employed. Participants were surveyed at two time points (time 1 and time 2) separated by a 2-week interval. Participants completed measures of depressive symptoms, self-criticism, insecure striving, and fear of compassion from others. The final sample was comprised of 93 individuals aged 19 to 60 years (M = 29.86, SD = 10.87).


Using prospective data, this study replicated previous cross-sectional findings that high fear of compassion strengthens the relationship between self-criticism and depression. Fear of compassion was also found to be a significant moderator of the relationship between insecure striving at time 1 and depression at time 2, with low fear of compassion strengthening the relationship between insecure striving and depression.


These findings may have important implications for how we understand and treat depression. They suggest that targeting both an individual’s fear of, and ability to effectively communicate needs for, compassion from others may be important in reducing depressive symptoms, particularly in individuals who are high in self-criticism and insecure striving beliefs.

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