Publication Date



Objective: Self-compassion has been framed as a healthy alternative to self-esteem, as it is nonevaluative. However rather than being alternatives, it may be that the two constructs develop in a mutually-reinforcing way. The present study tested this possibility among adolescents. Method: A large adolescent sample (N = 2,809; 49.8% female) reported levels of trait selfesteem and self-compassion annually for four years. Auto-regressive cross-lagged structural equation models were used to estimate the reciprocal longitudinal relations between the two constructs. Results: Self-esteem consistently predicted changes in self-compassion across the four years of the study, but not vice versa. Conclusion: Self-esteem appears to be an important antecedent of the development of selfcompassion, perhaps because the capacity to extend compassion toward the self depends on one’s appraisals of worthiness. These findings add important insights to our theoretical understanding of the development of self-compassion.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: A worthy self is a caring self: Examining the developmental relations among self-esteem and self-compassion in adolescents, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/jopy.12340. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.