Stomaching rejection: Self-compassion and self-esteem moderate the impact of daily social rejection on restrictive eating behaviours among college women

Psychol Health. 2017 Nov;32(11):1348-1370. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2017.1324972. Epub 2017 May 5.


Objective: The present study examined whether having high self-esteem or a self-compassionate perspective help mitigate the impact of daily social rejection on negative affect and restrictive eating behaviours.

Design: Following a baseline survey assessing self-esteem and self-compassion, 121 college women completed online daily diaries for one week.

Main outcome measures: Negative affect and restrictive eating behaviours.

Results: On days when women reported more rejection, they also reported higher restrictive eating behaviours and greater negative affect. Effects were moderated by self-esteem and self-compassion, such that the lower participants were in self-esteem or self-compassion, the stronger the positive relation between rejection and negative affect and restrictive eating. However, only the common humanity/isolation dimension of self-compassion significantly moderated daily effects of rejection when controlling for self-esteem. Mediated moderation results reveal different mechanisms by which self-esteem and self-compassion buffer against rejections' effects on affect and restrictive eating.

Conclusion: Self-compassion and self-esteem influence the complex impact that social rejection has on affect and restrictive eating. More than other dimensions of self-compassion or self-esteem, remembering one's common humanity can result in a healthier response to social rejection.

Keywords: SEM; college women; daily diary; restrictive eating; self-compassion; social rejection.

MeSH terms

  • Empathy*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychological Distance*
  • Self Concept*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult