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The development of compassionate engagement and action scales for self and others

Gilbert, Paul, Catarino, Francisca, Duarte, Cristiana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6566-273X, Matos, Marcela, Kolts, Russell, Stubbs, James, Ceresatto, Laura, Duarte, Joana, Pinto-Gouveia, José and Basran, Jaskaran Basran (2017) The development of compassionate engagement and action scales for self and others. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 4 (4).

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Abstract

Background
Studies of the value of compassion on physical and mental health and social relationships have proliferated in the last 25 years. Although, there are several conceptualisations and measures of compassion, this study develops three new measures of compassion competencies derived from an evolutionary, motivational approach. The scales assess 1. the compassion we experience for others, 2. the compassion we experience from others, and 3. self-compassion based on a standard definition of compassion as a ‘sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it’. We explored these in relationship to other compassion scales, self-criticism, depression, anxiety, stress and well-being.

Methods
Participants from three different countries (UK, Portugal and USA) completed a range of scales including compassion for others, self-compassion, self-criticism, shame, depression, anxiety and stress with the newly developed ‘The Compassionate Engagement and Actions’ scale.

Results
All three scales have good validity. Interestingly, we found that the three orientations of compassion are only moderately correlated to one another (r < .5). We also found that some elements of self-compassion (e.g., being sensitive to, and moved by one’s suffering) have a complex relationship with other attributes of compassion (e.g., empathy), and with depression, anxiety and stress.

A path-analysis showed that self-compassion is a significant mediator of the association between self-reassurance and well-being, while self-criticism has a direct effect on depressive symptoms, not mediated by self-compassion.

Discussion
Compassion evolved from caring motivation and in humans is associated with a range of different socially intelligent competencies. Understanding how these competencies can be inhibited and facilitated is an important research endeavour. These new scales were designed to assess these competencies.

Conclusions
This is the first study to measure the three orientations of compassion derived from an evolutionary model of caring motivation with specified competencies. Our three new measures of compassion further indicate important complex relationships between different potentiation’s of compassion, well-being, and vulnerability to psychopathologies.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40639-017-0033-3
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5686

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