A correlation study of self–compassion, self–forgiveness and eating disorder behaviour among university females
Swanepoel, Cindy Rachel
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Recently protective factors associated with eating disorders have acquired more focus within the field of psychology. Self-compassion and self-forgiveness have previously been related to a variety of beneficial psychological outcomes. It has been suggested that these may serve as protective factors against the development of eating disorders. The purpose of this study was to determine whether significant correlations exist between the following constructs in university female students: on the one hand, self-forgiveness and self-compassion, with its associated components, namely mindfulness, self-kindness, common humanity, and on the other hand eating disorder predictors, namely body dissatisfaction, a drive for thinness and low self-esteem. Body dissatisfaction, a drive for thinness and low self-esteem have been identified as the most predictive factors associated with the onset of eating disorders. For this study, a convenience sample of 122 female students at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University, ranging between the ages of 18 and 25 (M age = 20.42 years, SD = 1.62) completed the following questionnaires: a biographical questionnaire; The Self-Compassion Scale; The Eating Disorder Inventory 3, and The Heartland Forgiveness Scale. Body Mass Indices (BMIs) were also calculated, but only as indicative of range, and not as determining variables. In this study participants fell predominantly within the normal BMI range (M = 23.11, SD = 3.24). Statistical analysis calculated Pears on correlation coefficients between the variables, indicating the nature and strength of the relationships between variables. The reliability of the measurements where determined by Cronbach alphas, and in this study the reliability was found to be good. This study found that self-compassion and self-forgiveness significantly correlated negatively of a large effect with eating disorder predictors. Self-compassion especially had significant negative correlates with body dissatisfaction, indicating that individuals with higher self-compassion experienced lower body dissatisfaction. Self-forgiveness showed highly significant negative correlations with low self-esteem, indicating that individuals engaging in self-forgiveness had higher self-esteems. Both self-compassion and self-forgiveness showed negative correlations of medium significance with the drive for thinness, indicating that individuals engaging in self-compassionate and self-forgiving behaviours had somewhat less of a drive for thinness than individuals not engaging in such behaviours. The results therefore showed that self-compassion, with its associated constructs (mindfulness, self-kindness and common humanity), as well as self-forgiveness, had an inverse effect on the above mentioned eating disorder predictors, namely body dissatisfaction, a drive for thinness and low self-esteem. This could allow for future regression studies to identify the above-mentioned as protective factors, which could then inform future prevention programmes, especially within the South African population.
- Humanities