The purpose of the present study was to assess the mediating effects of emotion regulation and perception of self (i.e., shame) on the relationship between early attachment-based caregiving and self-compassion in early adulthood.
Participants were 233 ethnically diverse undergraduate students (61% females, 39% males) between 18 and 28 years old (M = 22.7 years) from a midsized southwestern university in the USA. Participants completed a questionnaire comprised of scales assessing early attachment-based caregiving, emotion regulation, shame, and self-compassion. Structural equation modeling (SEM) using EQS (version 6.1) was used to analyze the data.
Results showed an indirect association of early attachment-based caregiving with self-compassion through emotion regulation and perception of self (as measured by “shame”); a direct, moderate association of early attachment-based caregiving with emotion regulation and shame; a direct, moderate association of shame with self-compassion; and a direct, large association of emotion regulation with self-compassion.
The results of this study suggest that the quality of the early caregiving environment is related to young adults’ emotion regulation and shame proneness, which in turn are linked to their subsequent capacity for self-compassion. These findings are consistent with other studies suggesting the important role of early attachment-based caregiving for the development of emotion regulation, positive self, empathy, and psychological well-being.