Efficacy of Guided Versus Self-Induced Learning of Web-Based Self-Compassionate Journaling by College Students

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We conducted 3 studies examining the efficacy of web-based self-compassionate journaling (SCJ). The goal was to compare the effects of guided and self-administered journaling on selfreported follow-up self-compassion scores and participant perceptions of the induction. In Study 1 participants were randomly assigned to an online SCJ exercise, online narrative journaling control group, or attention control (AC) group, with groups completing tasks for 4 weeks. In Study 2 participants self-selected into either online or in-lab conditions to complete a single-time SCJ exercise. Study 3 was a replication of Study 2, with participants being randomly assigned to conditions. There were no differences in self-compassion between groups in Study 1. However, there was a small but significant overall increase in self-compassion among participants from baseline to follow-up. There were self-compassion differences between online and in-lab groups in Study 2 (with a small effect size). However, these differences were not maintained when the covariate of baseline trait self-compassion was removed from analyses. Study 3 failed to replicate significant findings from Study 2 in all but one variable: whether participants completing the induction alone found the task more difficult to complete. In general, SCJ may not be an adequate way to increase self-compassion regardless of whether it is learned online or in a laboratory setting. Furthermore, those who learn SCJ alone online report difficulty in completing the induction.