Self-Criticism and Responses to Self-Critical Statements: An Investigation of Self-Criticism, Self-Submission, Self-Compassion and Attack-Resistance

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Cwinn, Eli
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University of Guelph

The overall aim of the current project was to examine self-criticism from a meta-theoretical interpersonal and evolutionary framework. To this end two studies were undertaken. Study 1 involved an experimental priming design to examine whether individuals in a compassion or resistance prime condition would be less self-critical than a non-primed comparison group following a failure task. 114 participants completed self-report measures, either a guided imagery task or a non-listening control, and a short spatial reasoning task after which they were given negative feedback. A one-way ANOVA was used to examine whether the imagery conditions had lower state self-criticism after negative feedback as compared to the non-listening control. While the results of Study 1 were null, they did support an alternative hypothesis; that there is a disconnect between interpersonal motives (compassion of self-to-other) and reflexive motives (self-to-self; e.g., self-compassion). This disconnect between the interpersonal domain and the intrapersonal domain was examined in Study 2 which used a mixed qualitative-quantitative approach to clarify the domain of self-submission, self-compassion, and attack resistance. In particular, relations between interpersonal and intrapersonal submission were examined and found to be related but distinct. Further, results suggested that self-submission, self-compassion, and attack-resistance validly capture patterns of self-relating after self-criticism. Use of self-compassion or attack-resisting in addition to self-submission was associated with lower negative affect as compared to use of self-submission alone. Further, more awareness of one’s self-to-self interactions following self-criticism was also associated with lower levels of negative affect. Implications for therapy and future research are discussed.

self-criticism, self-submission, self-compassion, dialogical, social mentality theory, self-to-self, evolutionary models, interpersonal theory