Self-compassion vs. Self-esteem

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Hurla, Christine
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Research has shown that there can be negative effects of striving to increase self-esteem, such as increased anxiety and narcissism (Crocker & Park, 2004). Researchers have found that self-compassion, an attitude of kindness to oneself, may be a healthier way to relate to oneself than self-esteem (Neff, 2003). The purpose of the current study is to replicate a study by Leary et al. (2007) in which participants were experimentally induced into perspectives of either self-esteem or self-compassion. The study will compare the effects of inducing a self-esteem perspective with the effects of inducing a perspective of self-compassion.
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Compassion Christine Hurla Introduction Self-esteem is a construct that has been widely accepted as the most significant evaluation of self-worth. However, research has shown that striving for high self-esteem may have negative effects, such as increased narcissism or anxiety(Crocker & Park, 2004). More recently, researchers have been interested in studying self-compassion as an alternative conceptualization of self-worth. The three-part definition of self-compassion includes mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity (Neff, 2003). Self-compassion is believed to be a healthy self-evaluation that does not produce the negative outcomes that may result from striving for high self-esteem (Neff, 2003). Discussion The results were not as expected. An independent samples t-test revealed significant differences between the conditions at Time 2 for isolation, mindfulness, and total self-compassion scores, but in the opposite direction as predicted. Counter to expectations, participants in the self-esteem condition scored lower in isolation, higher in mindfulness, and higher in self-compassion than participants in the self-compassion condition. The self-esteem condition scored higher than the self-compassion condition in self-esteem as well. This study will continue to collect data, and results may vary with a larger sample size. Limitations: •Small sample size (N=15) •Gender not distributed equally between groups. (SE= 1 male, 5 female, SC=5 male, 4 female) Research Question This study is a replication of a study by Leary (2007) in which participants were experimentally induced into perspectives of either self-esteem or self-compassion. The goal of the study is to determine whether subjects can be experimentally induced into different perspectives, and to examine how the effects of self-esteem induction compare with the effects of self-compassion induction. Method Participants: 15 undergraduate student volunteers •9 self-compassion condition •6 self-esteem condition Measures: •Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003a) •Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) Procedure: •Participants randomly assigned to self-esteem condition, self-compassion condition •Participants completed the SCS and SES for Time 1. •1-2 weeks later, they returned to complete a writing exercise designed to elicit either a perspective of self-compassion or self-esteem. •Participants completed the SCS and SES for Time 2. References Crocker, J., Park, L.E. (2004).The Costly Pursuit of Self-Esteem. Psychological Bulletin 130, 392-414. Leary, M.R., Tate, E.B., Adams, C. E., Allen, A B., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self- compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 887- 904. Neff, K.D. (2003). The Development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223-250. Neff, K.D. (2003). Self-Compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85-101. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton University Press. Time 1 Time 2 Total Scores Results