Exploring the impact of induced guilt on self-reported self-compassion and self-criticism
Guilt is a behaviour-focused emotion often associated with interpersonal transgressions that generally produce a reparative response (i.e., apologizing). Accessibility and automaticity of coping strategies and guilt reduction interventions often depend on whether guilt is presented as a state or a trait. Self-Compassion may be a tool for reducing the negative effects of guilt, however little research exists on the effects of state guilt on one's self-compassion. To assess the potential impact of state guilt on state self-compassion and self-criticism, 55 first- and second-year psychology students from the University of Regina Participant Pool completed the trait Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) and the Levels of Self-Criticism Scale (LOSC) before being randomly assigned to either guilt induction (n = 29) or no guilt induction (n = 26) conditions. After completing an autobiographical recall task that served as the guilt induction, all participants completed the LOSC a second time. The effectiveness of the guilt induction task was measured using a manipulation check. I predicted that state self-compassion would be higher and that self-criticism would be lower when guilt is induced for those higher in trait self-compassion. Guilt did not influence state self-compassion depending on one's level of trait self-compassion. However, as in previous studies, individuals higher in trait self-compassion were lower in self-criticism. A possible contributor to the absence of differences between the guilt induction and no guilt induction conditions may have been a result of small sample size and an ineffective guilt induction task since participants frequently reported feelings of regret and disappointment more than guilt.