Linking Self-Compassion and Prosocial Behavior in Adolescents: The Mediating Roles of Relatedness and Trust

  • Ying Yang
  • Zhen Guo
  • Yu KouEmail author
  • Ben Liu


Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness rather than harsh judgement, viewing imperfection as an inherent part of shared human experience rather than seeing them as isolating, and being mindful of painful feelings rather than over-identifying with them. Abundant evidence has identified the adaptive role of self-compassion on multiple intrapersonal outcomes, such as mental health, emotional well-being and improvement motivation. However, relatively few is known about self-compassion’s interpersonal/social benefits, especially in adolescents. The present study examined the relationships between self-compassion, satisfaction of relatedness, general trust, and prosocial behavior in a relatively large Chinese high school adolescent sample (N = 3238, 47.8% boys; Mage = 15.66 years, SD = 0.80). We observed that self-compassion was positively associated with adolescents’ prosocial behavior, and that relatedness and trust mediated the positive association. Moreover, we found that boys maintained a slightly higher level of self-compassion than girls, and multi-group analysis showed that the relationship between self-compassion and trust was also slightly greater in boys than girls. The present study sheds light on how self-compassion is associated with positive social behavior in adolescents. We suggest that self-compassion intervention could be adapted and implemented during this critical developmental period. More research is encouraged to further discover the adaptive functions of self-compassion in social context.


Self-compassion Relatedness Trust Prosocial behavior 



This research was supported by the MOE Project of Key Research Institutes of Humanities and Social Science at Universities (16JJD880007), Research Institute of Wang Yangming's Philosophy of Mind & Current Social Mentality of Confucius Academy (KXTXT201704), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2018ECNU-HLYT022).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Cognitive ScienceEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Institute of Developmental PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.MiZhi Middle School of Shaanxi ProvinceShaanxiChina

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