Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Kocovski

Advisor Role



Self-compassion involves showing kindness and understanding to the self during times of hardship. Individuals with social anxiety have been shown to exhibit lower levels of self-compassion than the general population. The present set of studies seeks to build support for a domain-specific conceptualization of self-compassion, as it relates to social anxiety. Study One (N=160) explored self-compassionate responding in three domains of stress from self-generated recollections in an online format. It was predicted that individuals high in levels of social anxiety would be more self-compassionate in scenarios involving non-social situations (i.e., burnout, physical illness) than in a socially evaluative scenario. Results indicated that individuals with higher levels of social anxiety were least self-compassionate in the domain of social judgement, whereas individuals with lower levels of social anxiety were least self-compassionate in times of burnout. Self-compassionate responding in times of burnout was particularly low overall for the entire sample. This initial support for the domain specificity of self-compassion led to the conceptualization of Study Two (N=158). This study sought to replicate the findings of Study One using an in-lab paradigm and different domains of stress. Undergraduate students were randomly assigned to complete a challenging anagram task in the lab either alongside a group of other participants (social judgement condition) or alone (time-limit condition). It was hypothesized that individuals high in social anxiety would be less self-compassionate in the social judgement condition than the time-limit condition. A significant interaction effect emerged for the self-kindness subscale of the state self-compassion scale, however, it was in the opposite direction of what was hypothesized. Individuals high in social anxiety felt less self-compassion in the time-limit condition compared to the social judgement condition. Finally, Study Three (N=230), sought to replicate Study One using the same paradigm and procedure, while also exploring potential mechanisms behind the differences in self-compassionate responding. Unlike Study One, there was no significant interaction of social anxiety by condition on state self-compassion. However, there was a significant main effect of scenario condition which provides partial support for the domain-specific conceptualization of self-compassion. Those in the physical illness scenario were significantly more self-compassionate than those in both the social judgement and burnout scenarios. Self-blame, and external and personal control mediated the relationship between scenario condition and state self-compassion. Overall, the present set of studies provides support for a domain-specific conceptualization of self-compassion, and partial support for this domain-specificity in relation to social anxiety.

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