A reconsideration of the self-compassion scale’s total score : self-compassion versus self-criticism

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Public Library of Science


The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) is currently the only self-report instrument to measure self-compassion. The SCS is widely used despite the limited evidence for the scale’s psychometric properties, with validation studies commonly performed in college students. The current study examined the factor structure, reliability, and construct validity of the SCS in a large representative sample from the community. The study was conducted in 1,736 persons, of whom 1,643 were included in the analyses. Besides the SCS, data was collected on positive and negative indicators of psychological functioning, as well as on rumination and neuroticism. Analyses included confirmatory factor analyses (CFA), exploratory factor analyses (EFA), and correlations. CFA showed that the SCS’s proposed six-factor structure could not be replicated. EFA suggested a two-factor solution, formed by the positively and negatively formulated items respectively. Internal consistency was good for the two identified factors. The negative factor (i.e., sum score of the negatively formulated items) correlated moderately to strongly to negative affect, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, as well as to rumination and neuroticism. Compared to this negative factor, the positive factor (i.e., sum score of the positively formulated items) correlated weaker to these indicators, and relatively more strongly to positive affect. Results from this study do not justify the common use of the SCS total score as an overall indicator of self-compassion, and provide support for the idea, as also assumed by others, that it is important to make a distinction between self-compassion and self-criticism.


10.1371/journal. pone.0132940



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Copyright © 2015 López et al.

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López, A., Sanderman, R., Smink, A., Zhang, Y., Sonderen, E. v., Ranchor, A., & Schroevers, M. (2015). A reconsideration of the self-compassion scale’s total score: Self-compassion versus self-criticism. PLoS ONE, 10(7): e0132940. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0132940