Self-compassion, social rank, and psychological distress in athletes of varying competitive levels
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AbstractSelf-Compassion may be seen as a concept contrary to the aims of athletes engaged in competitive sport. This could be accentuated at more elite levels, where athletes may view concepts like self-criticism and self-judgement as more important for improvement. The current study aimed to better understand how athletes of different competitive levels (from social to international) relate to concepts of self-compassion. Further, we aimed to explore how factors relating to social rank and self-compassion contribute to psychological distress. Cross-sectional online survey. An online survey was distributed, including the following validated questionnaires: Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales, the Self-Compassion Scale, Fears of Compassion Scales, Social Comparison Scale, Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking & Self-Reassuring Scale, and the Striving to Avoid Inferiority Scale. Two hundred and fifty-three participants responded to the survey, including 115 recreational and 79 competitive athletes. There were no differences between groups on any measure of compassion or social rank. In a multiple linear regression model, lower self-compassion, higher fears of compassion (for self), and higher feelings of inadequacy predicted more pronounced psychological distress in athletes. Contrary to expectation, the results suggest that even highly elite athletes may be open to using self-compassion. Given that reduced self-compassion and sense of social rank contributed to psychological distress in athletes, the results suggest that compassion-based approaches to treating psychological distress in this population may be valid.
CitationWalton, C.C., Baranoff, J., Gilbert, P. and Kirby, J., (2020). 'Self-compassion, social rank, and psychological distress in athletes of varying competitive levels'. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 50(101733), pp. 1-7.
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
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