Fearing Compassion Impacts Psychological Well-being but has no Effect on Physiological Indicators.

Date

2020-02-05

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Yes

Abstract

Fearing Compassion Impacts Psychological Well-being but has no Effect on Physiological Indicators. Objective: Fears of compassion are feelings of threat towards receiving and giving kindness. This study examined the fears towards compassion on physiological responses during compassionate exercises. It has been argued that such fears are a barrier to a relaxation system normally reducing physiological activity but there has been no empirical evidence to support this. Exercises have been developed to increase compassion by activating a physiological soothing system, however if fears to compassion block the effectiveness of compassion then new methods may need to be developed to increase self-compassion.

Participants and Methods: A non-clinical sample of sixty participants took part in two compassionate exercises. Heart rate and skin conductance were recorded during these exercises to indicate physiological activity. Social safeness, self-criticism and symptoms of depression were also assessed via the Fears of Compassion Scale, the Forms of Self-Criticism/Self-Reassuring Scale, the Social Safeness Scale and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS).

Results: Multivariate analysis indicated there was no effect between high and low fears of compassion on both heart rate and skin conductance. However, social safeness and symptoms of mental illness were significantly affected by fears of compassion from psychological indicators of well-being, (F(3,56)= 5.721, p<.01, Wilks Lambda = .765, partial n2=.235). Independent analysis found differences in social safeness (F(1,58)= 14.46, p<.01, partial n2=.20) and DASS (F(1,58)= 6.53, p<.05, partial n2= .101). Social safeness was higher in the low fears of compassion group, 46.87 (SD= 6.06), whilst DASS was greater in the high fears group, 23.34 (SD=12.91).

Conclusions: The findings did not support that fears are a barrier towards building compassion suggesting that compassionate exercises can be effective for both higher and lower fears of compassion. These results support a dynamic relationship between social safeness and fears towards compassion. The implications are that fears do not prevent activation of the self-soothing system but have an effect on social safeness and abnormal behaviour development.

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Keywords

Psychology, Wellbeing

Citation

Scase, M.O. and Gill, J.K. (2020) Fearing Compassion Impacts Psychological Well-being but has no Effect on Physiological Indicators. International Neuropsychological Society Conference, Denver, USA, February 2020.

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Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science