Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jon R. Webb

Committee Members

William T. Dalton III, Stacey L. Williams, Ginette C. Blackhart, Jameson K. Hirsch


Self-compassion and self-forgiveness appear to have much in common, as both relate to one’s self-regard during challenging circumstances; however, their empirical relationship is largely yet to be explored. The present study examines theoretical and empirical areas of overlap and proposes a theory of their relationship, including its possible impact on health. Self-compassion and self-forgiveness were proposed to have a direct relationship that may be mediated by reduction in rumination, shame, and experiential avoidance. These factors together were also hypothesized to have a positive impact on health functioning. The current study tested these models in a sample of undergraduate students (n = 199). In parallel mediation analysis, selfcompassion and self-forgiveness were related to one another and this association was partially mediated by shame, only. As such, neither rumination nor experiential avoidance were included in subsequent analyses. In serial mediation analyses, self-compassion, shame, and selfforgiveness were found to affect health outcomes in various ways. For psychological distress, the association of self-compassion was partially mediated by shame and self-forgiveness, in an indistinguishable fashion. For mental health status, self-compassion was found to have a significant direct effect, only. For both somatic symptoms (full mediation) and physical health status (indirect only effect), the association of self-compassion operated through self-forgiveness both alone and linked with shame. As these two emerging areas in the psychological literature continue to mature, researchers should prioritize both integration between and nuances within these constructs in order to develop a more complete understanding of self-compassion, selfforgiveness, and their implications for health.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted