Self-Compassion – Conceptualization, Operationalization, and Research Review
Keywords:self-compassion, conceptualization, measurement, individual differences, adolescents
AbstractThe construct of self-compassion has been intensively studied in the scientific community over the past twenty years. Self-compassion is associated with positive mental health and resilience, and it refers to an individual’s attitude toward himself during difficult times. This paper presents a theoretical conceptualization of the construct according to which self-compassion includes several interconnected components: (1) self-kindness versus self-judgment, (2) common humanity versus isolation, and (3) mindfulness versus over-identification. An overview of instruments for self-compassion measurement and ambiguous results of studies regarding the factor structure of the construct are also provided. Furthermore, the paper presents the results of several studies that examined individual differences in self-compassion with regard to gender and age. The aim of this review article is to integrate the results of previous research in order to provide insight into the theoretical conceptualization of self-compassion, as well as to present different ways of its measurement, with a particular emphasis on a critical review regarding the operationalization of the construct. Implications of the findings on individual differences in self-compassion for practice and suggestions for future research are also provided. Finally, the paper highlights the need to validate the proposed theoretical model of self-compassion in our cultural context and its potential adaptation.