Self-Compassion and Self-Coldness: Effects on Psychological Well-Being and Distress in Cultural Context

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Self-compassion has been found to be beneficial for both increasing an individual’s well-being and alleviating distress. Recent literature has suggested that the positive subscales of self-compassion (self-compassion) and the negative subscales of self-compassion (self-coldness) are two factors that have unique relationships with well-being and psychopathology. In Western contexts, self-compassion has been found to relate more strongly to well-being, while self-coldness has been found to relate more strongly to psychopathology. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether these unique relationships can be observed across cultural contexts. I compared samples of university students in the United States (US; n = 165) and Hong Kong (HK; n = 141). I found that self-compassion and self-coldness may relate to each other differently based on the cultural contexts. For the US, I found that self-coldness and self-compassion are negatively related to each other and that self-coldness more strongly predicts decreased well-being and increased distress. For HK, I found evidence that self-compassion and self-coldness may be orthogonal, and that self-compassion and self-coldness had more balanced effects on well-being and distress. Future research in Chinese cultural contexts would benefit from utilizing two factor structure to examine the benefits of self-compassion. Further research on how these relationships may differ across Asian contexts is needed.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Fung, Joey

Document Type





Self-compassion, Self-coldness, Well-being, Wellbeing, Mental health, Distress, Chinese culture, Compassion, Quality of life


Clinical Psychology


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