Stressed, depressed, and rank obsessed: Individual differences in compassion and neuroticism predispose towards rank‐based depressive symptomatology
AffiliationSchool of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Compassionate Mind Research Group, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Centre for Compassion Research and Training, College of Health and Social Care Research Centre, University of Derby, Derby, UK
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractAs social creatures, we monitor our relative rank and/or status with others via social comparisons. Whilst research has identified perceptions of inferiority or ‘low rank’ relative to others is a robust predictor of depressive, anxious, and stress symptomology, to date individual differences have been ignored. We wish to provide empirical evidence to outline how differences across personality traits may interact with social rank variables to buffer or predispose towards depressive symptomology. Across three independent samples (N = 595), we replicated a social rank model of mental health, and with our third sample (N = 200), we sought to investigate attenuating roles for neuroticism versus compassion with multiple moderated regression models. Neuroticism predicted greater levels of rank‐associated depression, and compassion failed to function as a protective factor for rank‐associated depression. However, a closer inspection of the original Big‐5 factor structure positions this scale as a measure of ‘interpersonal submissiveness’ or ‘conflict appeasement’ rather than genuine compassion. Whilst it is necessary to delineate the conditions where compassion is appropriate and able to lead to positive mental health outcomes, we argue this cannot be addressed with the Big‐5 measure of trait compassion. We call for future work to consider valid and reliable measures for compassion, such as the self‐compassion scale, submissive compassion scale, and fears of compassion scale, to more fully address how compassion may protect against both rank‐based comparisons and severity of depression. Social rank mechanisms are robustly implicated in depression, anxiety, and stress. Clients who present as higher in neuroticism, inferiority, or submissiveness may be more prone towards rank‐associated depression symptoms. Preliminary evidence suggests cultivation of genuine compassion can shift clients from a rank‐focussed to a compassionate‐focussed mentality, which aids mental health and fosters well‐being.
CitationKim, J.J., Gerrish, R., Gilbert, P. and Kirby, J.N., (2020). 'Stressed, depressed, and rank obsessed: Individual differences in compassion and neuroticism predispose towards rank‐based depressive symptomatology'. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, pp. 1-31.
JournalPsychology & Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
The following license files are associated with this item:
- Creative Commons