Effects of compassionate thinking on negative emotions

Cogn Emot. 2017 Jan;31(1):160-167. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2015.1078292. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


The present study compared the effect of compassionate thinking with other methods traditionally used in cognitive behavioural therapy (cognitive reappraisal, responsibility reattribution, and self-deflection). An instructional manipulation was used, and 207 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of these thinking styles or a control condition. The results revealed that participants who engaged in compassionate thinking and cognitive reappraisal reported significantly lower levels of negative emotions compared to those in the responsibility reattribution and control conditions. Furthermore, results of hierarchical regression analyses suggested that habitual use of self-compassion reduced negative emotions in all conditions. These findings suggest that self-compassion and reappraisal reduce negative emotions more than reattribution and self-deflection.

Keywords: Compassionate thinking; cognitive reappraisal; emotion regulation; self-compassion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emotions*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept
  • Thinking*
  • Young Adult