When leaving your ex, love yourself: Observational ratings of self-compassion predict the course of emotional recovery following marital separation

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Abstract

Divorce is a highly stressful event, and much remains to be learned about the factors that promote psychological resilience when marriages come to an end. In this study, divorcing adults (N = 109) completed a 4-min stream-of-consciousness recording about their marital separation at an initial laboratory visit. Four judges rated the degree to which participants exhibited self-compassion (defined by self-kindness, an awareness of one's place in shared humanity, and emotional equanimity) in their recordings. Judges evidenced considerable agreement in their ratings of participants' self-compassion, and these ratings demonstrated strong predictive utility: Higher levels of self-compassion at the initial visit were associated with less divorce-related emotional intrusion into daily life at the start of the study, and this effect persisted up to 9 months later. These effects held when we accounted for a number of competing predictors. Self-compassion is a modifiable variable, and if our findings can be replicated, they may have implications for improving the lives of divorcing adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

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Keywords

  • divorce
  • emotions
  • psychological stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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