Investigating the dynamic relations of the six self-compassion components with academic stress across Chinese primary, secondary, and university students in Hong Kong: A longitudinal study = 以縱向研究探討自我關懷的六個元素與本港華人大中小學生的學習壓力的動態關聯
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Faculty Development Scheme
Duration of the Project
The aim of this proposed longitudinal study is to investigate the relations of six constituent components (self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, self-judgment, isolation, and overidentification) of self-compassion (SC) with academic stress across primary, secondary, and university students in Hong Kong. Self-compassion is defined as a tendency to treat oneself with kindness and compassion when one encounters suffering, inadequacy, or failure (Neff, 2003). Pervious study by Neff et al. (2005) found that SC was negatively associated with performance goals and showed a significant mediation effect with lesser fear of failure and higher perceived competence. Recent studies showed that SC reduced academic stress of medical students (Kemper et al., 2019), lowered the risk of depression among South Korean university students even feeling of academic burnout (Lee & Lee, 2020), partially mediated the negative effect of perfectionism on test-related hope for Hong Kong primary students (Fong and Cai, 2019). Nevertheless, these studies used global SC scores that cannot unpack the differential mechanisms of the six SC components on academic stress of students. Studies with Chinese community (Chen et al., 2011; Finlay-Jones et al., 2018) and student samples (Law & Chan, 2019; Sun et al., 2016) consistently indicated that six-factor model (six SC components) fits better with practical and cultural implications. Furthermore, the role of the self-judgment (self-criticism) component is still unclear for Chinese/East Asians with the possible explanations of dialectical self-beliefs and the presence of constructive self-criticism as self-enhancement (Boyraz et al. 2021). In fact, a local study conducted by Sun et al. (2016) found that self-kindness and common humanity benefited female adolescents’ psychological well-being whereas mindfulness and self-judgment was advantageous to male adolescents’ psychological well-being. Law and Chan (2019) only found that isolation and overidentification (but not self-judgment) significantly mediated and intensified the negative effect of performance goals on academic stress among Chinese university students. However, these studies were limited with their cross-sectional and single-group research design. As academic stress is one of the key factors that strongly associated with the deteriorating well-being of Hong Kong students at various developmental stages, policymakers have raised the concern for the mental health issues amongst students (Food & Health Bureau, 2018). The proposed study, to our knowledge, is a pioneering study to adopt a prospective longitudinal mixed-cohort design to 1) examine the dynamic relations of the six SC components with academic stress over an academic year, 2) investigate the mechanisms of how the levels and changes of the six SC components mediate the relationship between performance-goal orientation and academic stress, and 3) explore the mediating roles of the six SC components on the relationship between performance-goal orientation and academic stress across Chinese primary, secondary, and university students from a developmental perspective. Using stratified random sampling at the school/institutional level, the proposed study is planned to recruit 300 primary students (4th graders) from three schools, 300 secondary students (10th graders) from three schools, and 300 undergraduate students (sophomores/Year 2 students) across three local universities for this longitudinal survey study. Longitudinal data analyses will be used to 1) discern whether the three positive and the three negative SC components serve as protective or risk indicators for academic stress, 2) provide a deeper understanding on the mediating role of each of the six SC components in buffering or intensifying academic stress over time, and 3) provide important baseline information for developing developmentally-appropriate and culturally-sensitive SC-based intervention to alleviate academic stress of Chinese students in Hong Kong. The findings of this study will have theoretical, methodological, practical, cultural and policy implications and impacts by understanding the mechanism of the six SC components for reducing academic stress and supporting well-being of Chinese students in Hong Kong.