AbstractPerformers in achievement domains inevitably have to manage losses and mistakes, but differ in their responses to these events. The purpose of this study was to examine if trait self-compassion predicted responses to a competition failure. Fifty-seven participants (28 male; Mage=21.46 years, SD=2.99) completed three computer-based "competitions" where outcome was controlled so they lost significantly more often than they won. Participants in the upper quartile comprised a "high self-compassion group" [HSCG; n=14 (6 male); self-compassion: M=3.98, SD=0.20], and those in the lowest quartile a "low self-compassion group" [LSCG; n=15 (6 male); self-compassion: M=2.20, SD=0.35]. HSCG demonstrated more adaptive responses to competition losses than LSCG. Prior to the competition, the low self-compassion group reported higher threat appraisals [t(27)=3.19] and stress [t(20.18)=2.60]. After the first competition, LSCG reported higher demands [t(27)=2.32] and stress [t(27)=3.74], and lower perceptions of resources [t(27)=-2.26]. After the second competition, LSCG reported higher demands [t(27)=2.47], threat appraisal [t(27)=3.02], and stress [t(27)=4.57]. LSCG also reported higher levels of stress after completing all competitions [t(27)=4.05]. A 2x4 repeated measures ANOVA indicated a significant group x time interaction for stress [F(120, 48)=1.66] and negative affect [F(96.44, 38.58)=1.65]. Participants low in self-compassion reported higher levels of negative affect prior to competition, after each competition, and at conclusion. HSCG reported engaging in more acceptance [t(27)= -3.61] and planning [t(27)=-3.62], and less catastrophizing [t(27)=6.76] and other blame [t(19.44)=2.66]. All results were significant (p< .05). Collectively, self-compassion is associated with adaptive emotion regulation strategies and lower threat appraisal and stress when experiencing defeat in competition.
Acknowledgments: Supported by the University of Alberta Human Performance Fund