Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Specialization

Behavioral Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Robert Laforge

Abstract

The present study sought to examine the relationship between self-compassion (SC) and disordered eating behavior (DEB) in a racially diverse all female sample (N = 374). As the factor structure of the self-compassion scale (SCS) has been criticized for being unstable, we first evaluated the best fitting model in the present sample. The SCS is comprised of 26 items and six subscales that measure positive and negative aspects of SC (i.e. self-kindness and self-judgement). Confirmatory Factor Analyses revealed a two-factor conceptualization fit the data best, indicating that both the positive and negative items measure distinct factors better than an overall self-compassion construct. These factors (referred to as self-compassionate and self-critical) were then used to operationalize self-compassion in further analyses. Linear regression analysis found that the self-compassionate subscale is in general positively related to disordered eating behavior, however the size that relationship is moderated by the individual’s self-criticism score. Interaction probing found that higher scores on the self-criticism scale augmented the size of effect of self-compassion on disordered eating behavior. For example, for those scoring one standard deviation (SD) above the mean of the self-criticism scale, self-compassion is associated with a 3% increase in disordered eating score for every point of increase on the self-compassion scale. For those with lower levels of the self-criticism -- such as for those scoring one SD below the mean of the self-criticism – a one-point increase on the self-compassionate subscale was related to a 1% increase in the disordered eating score. Follow up moderation analyses examining the effects of body shame, body surveillance, and body satisfaction were also conducted. These results revealed that body shame acted as a confound, instead of a moderator, while body satisfaction partially moderated and body surveillance fully moderated the relationship between self-compassion and disordered eating across levels of self-criticism. Unit increases in self-compassion predicted the greatest increase in disordered eating when body image satisfaction and self-criticism were both one SD above the mean (5% increase). There were only two probed interactions out of 24 that were nonsignificant: low self-criticism x low body surveillance and low self-criticism x body satisfaction.

Available for download on Sunday, August 14, 2022

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