Kenneth Volk

Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

John Mills, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor

Anson Long, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Margaret Reardon, Ph.D.


Compassion and self-compassion have significant benefits for wellbeing and mental health (e.g. Neff, 2003a, 2003b). Recent literature has demonstrated that some individuals can come to experience fear when receiving compassion from oneself or others (Gilbert, McEwan, Matos, & Rivis, 2011). The present study examines how fear of compassion for others, fear of compassion from others, and fear of self-compassion are related to interpersonal and introjected behavior, stable personality traits, and various facets of mental health. Undergraduate participants completed self-report survey measures in a laboratory setting, including the fear of compassion scales, the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB), NEO Five Factor Inventory, and Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS-62). Bivariate correlational analyses revealed fear of self-compassion to demonstrate inverse associations with levels of affiliation with a focus on oneself and others in interpersonal and introjected interactions, with fear of compassion from others inversely associated with affiliation towards others and with oneself. Fears of compassion were further found to be correlated positively with neuroticism and negatively with extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Consistent with previous literature, fears of compassion were also associated with various negative mental health outcomes like depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and eating concerns. Fear of self-compassion and fear of compassion for others were correlated to measures of academic distress, substance use, family problems, and hostility. These findings add to the literature on the challenges faced by individuals fearing compassion, while further research is needed to better understand the processes by which fears of compassion operate and contribute to these challenges.