Research: Self-Compassion in Friendships

How does self-compassion support our relationship with others? Can self-compassion support us in being a better friend not only to ourselves but also to others?

Below you will find summaries of research articles highlighting the beneficial effects of self-compassion in friendships. The topics examined in these articles are: friendship goals, conflict resolution in friendships and daily hassles in friendships.

Self-Compassion and Friendship Goals
(Crocker & Canevello, 2008)
In this study Crocker & Canevello (2008) examined college freshman students and their friendship goals. The study examined two types of friendship goals. First, self-image goals, these goals were related to obtaining and maintaining a positive social image. Second, compassionate goals, these goals were related to helping friends without expectation of benefitting from it oneself. The study found that students with higher levels of self-compassion were more likely to have compassionate friendship goals, rather than friendship goals that focused on one’s own self-image. Read the research.

Self-Compassion and Conflict Resolution in Friendships
(Yarnell & Neff 2013)
In this study the authors examined the relationship between self-compassion and methods of conflict resolution between best friends. First of all, this study found that college students high in self-compassion reported higher relational well-being. Furthermore, these students were also more likely to compromise as opposed to self-subordinate in conflict situations with their friends and they were less likely to experience emotional turmoil when resolving conflicts with their friends. This study shows that self-compassion can support conflict resolution in friendships. Read the research.

Self-Compassion and Daily Hassles in Friendships
(Xavier et al. 2016)
This study focused on adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. This study found that the students that experienced daily peer hassles also experienced depressive symptoms and non-suicidal self-injury. Interestingly, this study also showed that when self-compassion was present, the students reported lower levels of daily peer hassles, as well as lower levels of depressive symptoms and non-suicidal self-injury. The researchers underline the significance of these findings and the power of self-compassion as a preventive method, that has clinical implications both for educators and therapists working with adolescents. Read the research.

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Crocker, J., & Canevello, A. (2008). Creating and undermining social support in communal relationships: The role of compassionate and self-image goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(3), 555–575. 

Yarnell, L. M., & Neff, K. D. (2013). Self-compassion, interpersonal conflict resolutions, and well-being. Self and Identity, 12(2), 146–159.

Xavier, A., Pinto-Gouveia, J., & Cunha, M. (2016). The protective role of self-compassion on risk factors for non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence. School Mental Health, 8(4), 476–485.

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