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

      Gilbert, Paul; Catarino, Francisca; Duarte, Cristiana; Matos, Marcela; Kolts, Russell; Stubbs, James; Ceresatto, Laura; Duarte, Joana; Pinto-Gouveia, José; Basran, Jaskaran; et al. (Biomed Central, 2017-04-27)
      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.
    • The impact of self-criticism and self-reassurance on weight-related affect and well-being in participants of a commercial weight management programme.

      Duarte, Cristiana; Stubbs, James; Pinto-Gouveia, José; Matos, Marcela; Gale, Corinne; Morris, Liam; Gilbert, Paul; University of Coimbra; University of Leeds; Slimming World; et al. (Karger, 2017-04-04)
      Objective: Certain psychological and emotional factors can undermine attempts at weight management. Previously we have found that shame and self-criticism were significantly associated with disinhibition and perceived hunger in 2,236 participants of a weight management programme. This effect was fully mediated through weight-related negative affect. The present study examined the impact of self-criticism and self-reassurance on well-being and whether it was mediated by weight-related affect in the same population. Methods: Participants completed an online survey of measures of self-criticism and self-reassurance, and negative and positive affect associated with weight and well-being. Results: Path analysis suggested that self-criticism was significantly associated with decreased well-being, both directly and indirectly, mediated by increased negative and decreased positive weight-related affect. Self-reassurance had a stronger association with increased well-being by predicting lower negative and increased positive weight-related affect. All effects were significant at p < 0.001. Conclusion: Self-criticism and self-reassurance were related to well-being in participants attempting to manage their weight, both directly and through their impact on weight-related affect. The positive association between self-reassurance and well-being was stronger than the negative association between self-criticism and well-being. Supporting the development of self-reassuring competencies in weight management programmes may improve weight-related affect and well-being.
    • The impact of shame, self-criticism and social rank on eating behaviours in overweight and obese women participating in a weight management programme

      Duarte, Cristiana; Matos, Marcela; Stubbs, James; Gale, Corinne; Morris, Liam; Gouveia, Jose Pinto; Gilbert, Paul; University of Coimbra; University of Derby; Slimming World; et al. (Public Library of Science (PLOS), 2017-01-20)
      Recent research has suggested that obesity is a stigmatised condition. Concerns with personal inferiority (social rank), shame and self-criticism may impact on weight management behaviours. The current study examined associations between social comparison (shame, self-criticism), negative affect and eating behaviours in women attending a community based weight management programme focused on behaviour change. 2,236 participants of the programme completed an online survey using measures of shame, self-criticism, social comparison, and weight-related affect, which were adapted to specifically address eating behaviour, weight and body shape perceptions. Correlation analyses showed that shame, self-criticism and social comparison were associated with negative affect. All of these variables were related to eating regulation and weight control (p < 0.001). Path analysis revealed that the association of shame, hated-self, and low self-reassurance on disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger was fully mediated by weight-related negative affect, even when controlling for the effect of depressive symptoms (p < 0.050 to p < 0.010). In addition, feelings of inadequacy and unfavourable social comparisons were associated with higher disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger, partially mediated through weight-related negative affect (p = 0.001). These variables were negatively associated with extent of weight loss during programme attendance prior to the survey, while self-reassurance and positive social comparisons were positively associated with the extent of weight loss prior to the survey (p < .050). Shame, self-criticism, and perceptions of inferiority may play a significant role in self-regulation of eating behaviour in overweight people trying to manage their weight.
    • A qualitative study of the understanding and use of ‘compassion focused coping strategies’ in people who suffer from serious weight difficulties.

      Gilbert, Jean; Stubbs, James; Gale, Corinne; Gilbert, Paul; Dunk, Laura; Thomson, Louise; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Slimming World; University of Derby; University of Nottingham (Biomed Central, 2014-11-11)
      Abstract Background The physical and psychological health problems associated with obesity are now well documented, as is the urgency for addressing them. In addition, associations between quality of life, depression, self-esteem, self-criticism, and obesity are now established indicating a need for a better understanding of the links between self-evaluation, affect-regulation and eating behaviours. Methods Compassion has now been identified as a major source of resilience, helpful self-relating and affect regulation. Thus this study used semi-structured interviews to explore the understanding and experiences of compassion in 2 overweight men and 10 women seeking help for weight problems. The interviews examined people's understandings of compassion, their recall of experiences of compassion in childhood, their current experiences of receiving compassion from others, being compassionate to others, being self-compassionate, and whether they would be compassionate or self-critical for relapses in overeating. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis (Qual Res Psychol, 3: 77-101, 2006). Results Participants saw compassion as related to ‘caring’ and being ‘listened to’. However, their recall of earlier experiences of compassion was of primarily practical help rather than emotional engagement. Typically their response to their own relapse and setbacks were self-criticism, self-disgust and even self-hatred rather than self-caring or understanding. Self-critical/hating responses tend to be associated with poor weight regulation. Conclusions When people with weight problems relapse, or struggle to control their eating, they can become quite self-critical, even self-hating, which may increase difficulties with emotionally coping and maintaining healthy lifestyles and eating habits. Although turning to others for support and compassion, and becoming self-compassionate are antidotes to self-criticism, and are associated with better coping and mental health, many participants did not utilise compassionate strategies – often the opposite. It is possible that interventions that include mindfulness and compassion training could be helpful for these difficulties.