The University of Melbourne
GAPS2-McKenzie,etal-abstract.pdf (232.64 kB)

McKenzie, S., Glasser, S., Osborne, M. S., & Krause, A.E. (2023, 14 September). The rhythm of compassion: Exploring the role of music listening in cultivating self-compassion. Paper presented at the Global Arts and Psychology Seminar: Creativity in music and the arts, 14-16 September 2023. Hub conference University of York, University of Graz, Universidad Nacional de la Plata and University of Melbourne, Australia.

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Background: Music has been shown to help cultivate a broad spectrum of emotional reactions in individuals facing significant hardships, serving as an impactful means of coping. Indeed, research into music listening and emotions is growing, however there is a paucity in the literature exploring self-compassion in this context. Self-compassion, a predictor of mental health, involves acknowledging, alleviating, and preventing suffering within oneself (Gilbert, 2010). It comprises three primary components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Conversely, self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification represent its opposite counterparts (Neff, 2003).

Aims: This study aims to explore the potential impact of music listening on self-compassion scores by utilising both quantitative and qualitative data. Specifically, the study will examine the occurrence of scores related to both self-compassion and its opposite counterparts. By taking a mixed methods approach, the study seeks to gain a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between music listening and self-compassion.

Method and Results: A total of 296 university students residing in Australia aged 17 – 33 years (M = 19.32, SD = 2.37) completed a mixed-methods questionnaire that included measures of self-compassion and music listening. Participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale- Short Form (SCS-SF) by Raes et al., (2011) and other measures related to self-compassion and music listening habits. The data will be analysed to determine the occurrence of scores on both positive and negative aspects of self-compassion among participants who report music listening as a coping mechanism. Qualitative data were collected to gather participants' personal experiences with music listening and self-compassion. The results of the study are currently underway.

Conclusion: This study seeks to shed light on the potential impact of music listening on self-compassion and the occurrence of scores on both positive and negative aspects using the SCS-SF. Furthermore, the findings add to the growing body of knowledge regarding music listening and emotions. These findings have implications when considering the possible process of how music listening cultivates self-compassion and in turn improving mental health.


Gilbert, P. (2010). The compassionate mind: A new approach to life's challenges. New Harbinger Publications.

Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223-250. 80

Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K.D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the Self-Compassion Scale. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 18, 250-255.


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