Master of Science
Calogero, Rachel M.
Self-compassion involves reappraising negative events, accepting uncomfortable emotions, and practicing self-kindness. This thesis examined the effect of cultivating self-compassion via daily self-compassionate writing completed online for one week on stigmatizing and affirming self-perceptions in young undergraduate women. Undergraduate women (N = 254) were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions (i.e., self-compassionate writing, attentional-control, wait-list control) and completed measures of trait self-compassion, fear of self-compassion, affirming self-perceptions (i.e., body appreciation and broad conceptualization of beauty), and stigmatizing self-perceptions (i.e., self-objectification and phenomenological body shame) at baseline, post-test, and one-month follow-up. Hypotheses were tested using MANCOVA and a latent growth modelling (LGM) approach. MANCOVA revealed no change across conditions. LGM revealed a significant increase in the slope for self-compassion and a significant decrease in the slope for self-objectification and overidentification across time in the self-compassion condition, but the effects were small. Implications and future directions for self-compassion interventions are discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
Body image refers to the way a person thinks about, feels, and behaves towards their body. A person can experience negative body image, such as body dissatisfaction or body shame, and/or they can experience positive body image, such as appreciating and respecting their body. Negative body image is a known precursor of disordered eating and other mental health risks, whereas positive body image can protect and bolster mental health. On average, women tend to report more negative body image than men. Being more compassionate toward oneself may represent an effective way for women to cope with body image-related distress and develop more positive body image. Self-compassion involves responding to oneself with kindness (self-kindness), recognizing that suffering and distress is a shared human experience (common humanity), and accepting one’s emotions without judging them (mindfulness). In the domain of body image, researchers have shown that high self-compassion is related to more positive body image and less negative body image. The aim of this thesis was to develop a one-week daily online self-compassionate writing intervention to help young university women better cope with negative body-related experiences. Undergraduate women (N = 254) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: self-compassionate writing, attentional-control writing, or a wait-list control (no writing). Women completed measures of body shame, self-objectification (viewing the body from an outsider's perspective and as an appearance object), body appreciation, broad conceptualization of beauty, self-compassion, and fear of self-compassion at baseline, post-intervention, and one month later. Overall, self-compassion was strongly associated with aspects of both negative and positive body image, but the intervention itself did little to improve positive body image or reduce negative body image. Specifically, the findings indicated that women in the self-compassion condition were less likely to judge their emotions and view their body from an outsider's perspective, but these effects were very small. No other effects were observed. Participants demonstrated engagement with the intervention and fidelity checks confirmed good completion of the writing task. Future research should examine and vary specific features of the online delivery of self-compassionate writing interventions in order to increase the potency of the intervention.
Huellemann, Katarina, "‘Instead of Life in Prison, it Was Life in My Own Skin’: Scope and Limitations of a Week-Long Daily Online Self-Compassionate Writing Intervention for Young Women’s Body Image" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7209.