Self-compassionate responses to aging.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Evidence suggests that self-compassion may be beneficial to older adults who are struggling to cope with the aging process. The purpose of this study was to assess the thoughts of self-compassionate older adults and to determine whether self-compassionate thoughts relate to positive responses to aging.

Design and methods

Participants (n = 121, M = 76.2 years, approximately 65% female) completed measures of self-compassion and self-esteem; were randomly assigned to write about a positive, negative, or neutral age-related event; and completed questions about the event and their reactions. Responses were coded for self-compassionate themes and emotional tone.


Analyses indicated that self-compassion predicted positive responses to aging and that self-compassionate thoughts explained the relationship between trait self-compassion and emotional tone as well as the belief that one's attitude helped them cope with age-related events.


Although older adults who were low versus high in self-compassion experienced similar age-related events, participants high in self-compassion thought about these events in ways that predicted positive outcomes. Encouraging older adults to be more self-compassionate may improve well-being in old age.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Allen, AB; Leary, MR

Published Date

  • April 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 54 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 190 - 200

PubMed ID

  • 23392644

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3954413

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-5341

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0016-9013

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geront/gns204


  • eng