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22-04-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 7/2020

Mindfulness 7/2020

Self-compassion in Relation to Alexithymia, Empathy, and Negative Mood in Young Adults

Mindfulness > Uitgave 7/2020
Michael Lyvers, Ashveen Randhawa, Fred Arne Thorberg
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Alexithymia, a trait defined by difficulties identifying and describing emotional feelings and overly concrete thinking, is a known risk factor for psychopathology. Given recent evidence that therapeutic constructs based on Buddhist concepts are positively related to emotional self-awareness and mental health, the present study examined the relationship between one such construct, self-compassion, and alexithymia as well as empathy and mood in a sample of young Australian adults.


Participants were 253 young adults aged 18–30 years who were recruited from two Australian universities. They were administered validated measures of alexithymia, self-compassion, and empathy via a survey-hosting website.


Relationships among variables were as expected: alexithymia was negatively correlated with self-compassion and empathy, and the latter two variables were positively correlated with each other. After controlling for relevant covariates, alexithymia was the strongest (negative) predictor of self-compassion in a hierarchical regression model. Both alexithymia and self-compassion explained variance in negative mood (depression, anxiety, stress) in a second regression. Of the six subcomponents of self-compassion, only self-judgement was significant.


Further research is needed on alexithymia as a risk factor in young adults and the potential role of self-compassion in mitigating such risk.

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