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08-02-2017 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 4/2017

Mindfulness 4/2017

Self-compassion and Posttraumatic Growth: Cognitive Processes as Mediators

Mindfulness > Uitgave 4/2017
Celia Ching Yee Wong, Nelson C. Y. Yeung


Developing research shows self-compassion (i.e., a self-caring and compassionate attitude in the face of suffering) is adaptive when coping with crises, but the association between self-compassion and posttraumatic growth (i.e., positive changes after experiencing negative life events) has not yet been examined. This study aimed to examine the association between self-compassion (positive and negative components) and posttraumatic growth, as well as the mediating roles of cognitive processes in this association. Specifically, we hypothesized that higher positive self-compassion and lower negative self-compassion were associated with higher posttraumatic growth. Those associations were also hypothesized to be mediated through more adaptive cognitive processes (i.e., acceptance, positive reframing, presence of and search for meaning). A sample of 601 ethnically diverse college students (consisting of 30.4% Latinos, 17.0% Caucasians, 15.0% Asians/Pacific Islanders, 8.6% African-Americans, and 29% other/multi-ethnics) who had been exposed to at least one prior negative life event were invited to complete a cross-sectional survey. Correlational results showed negative self-compassion was not significantly associated with posttraumatic growth, search of meaning was not significantly associated with positive self-compassion, negative self-compassion and search of meaning were thus dropped from the proposed model. Consequentially, the mediation model was revised and examined with structural equation modeling (SEM), and it was found to fit well to the data. SEM results showed significant indirect effects of the positive self-compassion component on posttraumatic growth through positive reframing (B = 0.34, β = 0.19, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.28) and presence of meaning (B = 0.15, β = 0.08, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.14). Our findings suggested that positive self-compassion may be associated with more adaptive cognitive processes, which in turn is associated with higher levels of posttraumatic growth. Theoretical and practical implications of the proposed mediation model will be discussed.

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