Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Kristin Scott

Committee Member

Thomas Zagenczyk

Committee Member

Sharon Sheridan

Committee Member

Craig Wallace


Self-compassion is defined as a tripartite process whereby an individual notices their own suffering, feels empathetic concern for oneself, and responds to alleviate or address the suffering. Research on self-compassion has proliferated in the last decade, and a major theme in the literature posits that it is beneficial for the practicing individual. However, less attention is given to the impact of self-compassion expression on other individuals in the workplace – partly because one major assumption is that self-compassion is an internalized process. In this dissertation, I conceptualize self-compassion as a social process and draw from affective events theory to make predictions on observer reactions to witnessing self-compassion in the workplace. Specifically, I argue that observed self-compassion is an affective event that triggers affective reactions, which then influences subsequent judgments and behaviors. I make competing hypotheses regarding the type of affective reaction experienced by the observer, and introduce workplace norms as an environmental feature that will impact this relationship. Across three studies, results show that observers react positively (and not negatively) to witnessing self-compassion. These positive affective reactions are amplified in compassion-based work environments (Study 2), however, neither positive nor negative affective reactions are influenced in high-performance work environments (Studies 2 and 3). Implications for theory and practice, as well as future research directions, are discussed.

Author ORCID Identifier




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