Gender differences in self-compassion: a latent profile analysis of compassionate and uncompassionate self-relating in a large adolescent sample

Madeleine Ferrari*, Alissa Beath, Danielle A. Einstein, Keong Yap, Caroline Hunt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Self-compassion, a healthy way of relating to oneself, may promote psychological resilience during adolescence. How adolescents engage with self-compassion, and whether they have distinct self-compassionate or uncompassionate psychological profiles, is unclear. This study investigated potential self-compassion profiles based on responses to the Self-Compassion Scale–Short Form (SCS-SF) and examined their relationship with a range of mental health symptoms and cognitive and emotional tendencies. A large cross-sectional sample of high school students (N = 950; Mage = 13.70 years, SDage = 0.72, range = 12 to 16 years; 434 female and 495 male) completed several online self-report measures including the SCS-SF. Latent profile analysis identified parsimonious self-compassion profiles by gender using the six SCS-SF subscales. Five female profiles included ‘Low Self-Relating’, ‘Uncompassionate’, ‘High Self-Relating’, ‘Moderately Compassionate’ and ‘Highly Compassionate’. Comparatively, two male profiles included ‘Low Self-Relating’ and ‘Moderately Self-Relating’. Low Self-Relating involved low levels of both compassionate and uncompassionate responding, and Moderately Self-Relating involved higher levels of both. Low Self-Relating and Highly Compassionate profiles for females consistently reported lower levels of anxiety and depression symptoms, maladaptive perfectionism, intolerance of uncertainty, repetitive thinking and avoidance-fusion thinking patterns compared to the other female profiles. Low Self-Relating males reported more adaptive outcomes compared to Moderate Self-Relating males. These findings illustrate important adolescent gender differences in compassionate and uncompassionate self-response profiles. Results suggest self-compassion is an important psychological construct with diverse mental health benefits for females, whereas for males a lack of attachment to either response styles are linked with better psychological outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages16
    JournalCurrent Psychology
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2022

    Keywords

    • adolescent
    • mental health
    • self-compassion
    • emotion regulation
    • latent profile analysis

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