Self-compassion in Relation to Alexithymia, Empathy, and Negative Mood in Young Adults

Michael Lyvers*, Ashveen Randhawa, Fred Arne Thorberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
243 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Alexithymia, a trait defined by difficulties identifying and describing emotional feelings and overly concrete thinking, is a known risk factor for psychopathology. Given recent evidence that therapeutic constructs based on Buddhist concepts are positively related to emotional self-awareness and mental health, the present study examined the relationship between one such construct, self-compassion, and alexithymia as well as empathy and mood in a sample of young Australian adults. Methods: Participants were 253 young adults aged 18–30 years who were recruited from two Australian universities. They were administered validated measures of alexithymia, self-compassion, and empathy via a survey-hosting website. Results: Relationships among variables were as expected: alexithymia was negatively correlated with self-compassion and empathy, and the latter two variables were positively correlated with each other. After controlling for relevant covariates, alexithymia was the strongest (negative) predictor of self-compassion in a hierarchical regression model. Both alexithymia and self-compassion explained variance in negative mood (depression, anxiety, stress) in a second regression. Of the six subcomponents of self-compassion, only self-judgement was significant. Conclusions: Further research is needed on alexithymia as a risk factor in young adults and the potential role of self-compassion in mitigating such risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1665
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Early online date22 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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