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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02638

Self-compassion and cultural values: a cross-cultural study of self-compassion using a multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) analytical procedure

 Jesus Montero-Marin1*, Willem Kuyken2,  Catherine Crane2, Jenny Gu3, Ruth Baer4,  Aida A. Al-Awamleh5, Satoshi Akutsu6, Claudio Araya-Véliz7,  Nima Ghorbani8, Zhuo J. Chen9,  Kim Min-Sun10,  Michael Mantzios11, Danilo N. Rolim dos Santos112,  Luiz C. Serramo Lopez12,  Ahmed A. Teleb13,  Paul J. Watson14,  Ayano Yamaguchi15,  Eunjoo Yang16 and  Javier Garcia-Campayo1, 17, 18
  • 1Red de Investigación en Actividades Preventivas y Promoción de la Salud (redIAPP), Spain
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 3School of Psychology, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Psychology. University of Kentucky, United States
  • 5School of Physical Education, University of Jordan, Jordan
  • 6International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
  • 7Escuela de Psicología, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile
  • 8Dialogical Research Institute, Iran
  • 9Clemson University, United States
  • 10Department of Communicology, College of Arts & Humanities, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
  • 11Division of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Birmingham City University, United Kingdom
  • 12Lab. Ecologia Comportamental e Psicobiologia (DSE/CCEN), Universdade Federal da Paraiba (UFPB), Brazil
  • 13Special Education Department, Faculty of Education, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia
  • 14Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, United States
  • 15College of Community and Human Services, Rikkyo University, Japan
  • 16Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Korea University, South Korea
  • 17Aragon Institute for Health Research (IIS Aragon), Spain
  • 18Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain

Self-compassion is natural, trainable and multi-faceted human capacity. To date there has been little research into the role of culture in influencing the conceptual structure of the underlying construct, the relative importance of different facets of self-compassion, nor its relationships to cultural values. This study employed a cross-cultural design, with 4,124 participants from 11 purposively sampled datasets drawn from different countries. We aimed to assess the relevance of positive and negative items when building the self-compassion construct, the convergence among the self-compassion components, and the possible influence of cultural values. Each dataset comprised undergraduate students who completed the “Self-Compassion Scale” (SCS). We used a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) approach to the multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) model, separating the variability into self-compassion components (self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness), method (positive and negative valence), and error (uniqueness). The normative scores of the Values Survey Module (VSM) in each country, according to the cultural dimensions of individualism, masculinity, power distance, long-term orientation, uncertainty avoidance, and indulgence, were considered. We used Spearman coefficients (rs) to assess the degree of association between the cultural values and the variance coming from the positive and negative items to explain self-compassion traits, as well as the variance shared among the self-compassion traits, after removing the method effects produced by the item valence. The CFA applied to the MTMM model provided acceptable fit in all the samples. Positive items made a greater contribution to capturing the traits comprising self-compassion when the long-term orientation cultural value was higher (rs = 0.62; p = 0.042). Negative items did not make significant contributions to building the construct when the individualism cultural value was higher, but moderate effects were found (rs = 0.40; p = 0.228). The level of common variance among the self-compassion trait factors was inversely related to the indulgence cultural value (rs = -0.65; p = 0.030). The extent to which the positive and negative items contribute to explain self-compassion, and that different self-compassion facets might be regarded as reflecting a broader construct, might differ across cultural backgrounds.

Keywords: self-compassion, SCS, Cross-cultural, Multitrait-multimethod, MTMM, CFA

Received: 24 Sep 2018; Accepted: 07 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Vivian A. Dzokoto, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States

Reviewed by:

Katalin D. Papp, University of Debrecen, Hungary
Yu Niiya, Hosei University, Japan  

Copyright: © 2018 Montero-Marin, Kuyken, Crane, Gu, Baer, Al-Awamleh, Akutsu, Araya-Véliz, Ghorbani, Chen, Min-Sun, Mantzios, Rolim dos Santos1, Serramo Lopez, Teleb, Watson, Yamaguchi, Yang and Garcia-Campayo. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jesus Montero-Marin, Red de Investigación en Actividades Preventivas y Promoción de la Salud (redIAPP), Madrid, Madrid, Spain,