Every month, we scour the scientific literature for interesting studies that have practical implications for therapists working with shame, self-criticism, or compassion. Below are a few of our favorites for this month:
New Short Scale for Measuring External Shame
This is a study validating an abbreviated version of an existing external shame measure. The initial measure, created in the mid-1990’s is the Other-as-Shamer Scale. This new version is only 8 items long and replicates the initial factor structure of the longer measure. The authors named this new scale the Other as Shame Scale – 2 (OAS2).
Take away: The authors conclude that the “OAS2 is an economic, valid and reliable measure of external shame.”
Matos, M., Pinto-Gouveia, J., Gilbert, P., Duarte, C., & Figueiredo, C. (2015). The Other As Shamer Scale–2: Development and validation of a short version of a measure of external shame. Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 6-11.
Clinical Language Moderates Shame and Guilt in Eating Disorders
In this study, the authors created a discussion thread using either the term “acting out” or clinical terms. There was also a no-reading control condition. People who were in inpatient or day treatment and who read a discussion using clinical terms experienced increased guilt and shame, whereas those reading the discussion that used less clinical language like "acting out” experienced decreases in shame and guilt.
Take away: Using more clinical language when discussing problem with our clients, in contrast to more common sense or less technical ways of speaking, may result in more shame. This suggests that we need to take our clinical language into account when working with shame.
Duffy, M. E., & Henkel, K. E. (2015). Non-Specific Terminology: Moderating Shame and Guilt in Eating Disorders. Eating disorders, (ahead-of-print), 1-13.
Self-Compassion Protects Against Self-Objectification in Women
Objectification Theory posits that girls’ and women’s primary view of their physical selves is the perceived view of an outside observer. This study examined facets if self-objectification theory including body surveillance and body shame. They found self-compassion to be negatively related to these constructs. They also found self-compassion to be negatively related to depression and negative eating habits.
Take away: Self-compassion may protect against self-objectification and related clinical symptoms in women.
Liss, M., & Erchull, M. J. (2015). Not hating what you see: Self-compassion may protect against negative mental health variables connected to self-objectification in college women. Body image, 14, 5-12.