Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Nancy Kocovski

Advisor Role



Safety behaviours are commonly used in an attempt to decrease anxiety experienced in social settings. These behaviours, however, have been found to maintain anxiety. Self-compassion has shown promise for reducing anxiety and post-event rumination. The aim of the present studies was to examine the impact of a self-compassion induction on safety behaviours. It was hypothesized that inducing self-compassion would lead to lower safety behaviour use compared to control conditions. For the first two studies, participants were randomly assigned to complete self-compassion inductions or control writing prompts in relation to imagining a pre-determined social situation. Study 3 followed a similar procedure but tested the influence of inducing self-compassion after participants recalled a previous social judgement situation they experienced. Predicted self-compassion and safety behaviour use were then reported. Consistent with hypotheses, across all three studies, at baseline there were significant negative correlations between self-compassion and safety behaviour use. Study 1 and Study 2 did not show the hypothesized differences in self-compassion and safety behaviour use across conditions. In Study 3, participants in the self-compassion condition reported fewer avoidance behaviours compared to controls. Further, participants who chose to write about being observed by others reported fewer total, avoidance, and impression management safety behaviours when in the self-compassion condition. Lastly, the purpose of Study 4 was to investigate the impact of inducing self-compassion on safety behaviour use during an actual person-to-person interaction over Zoom. Contrary to hypotheses, state self-compassion and safety behaviour use did not differ between conditions, and participants in the self-compassion condition rated the interaction more negatively than controls. The results of all four studies inform future research on the potential relationship between self-compassion and safety behaviour use in social interactions.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season