Dr. Kristin Neff
Kristin is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture in the University of Texas at Austin’s Educational Psychology Department. Kristin studied communications as an undergraduate at the University of California at Los Angeles (B.A., 1988). She did her graduate work at University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D., 1997), studying moral development with Dr. Elliot Turiel. Her dissertation research was conducted in Mysore, India, where she examined children’s moral reasoning. She then spent two years of post-doctoral study with Dr. Susan Harter at Denver University, studying issues of authenticity and self-concept development. Her current position at the University of Texas at Austin started in 1999, and she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006.
During Kristin’s last year of graduate school in 1997 she became interested in Buddhism, and has been practicing meditation in the Insight Meditation tradition ever since. While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically.
In addition to her pioneering research into self-compassion, she has developed an 8-week program to teach self-compassion skills. The program, co-created with her colleague Chris Germer, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, is calledMindful Self-Compassion. Her book, Self-Compassion, was published by William Morrow in April, 2011.
On December 3, from Noon until 1 pm (Central Time), in ERB 228
Dr. Neff will deliver the following public presentation:
Title: “The Science of Self-Compassion”
For many years self-esteem was seen to be the key to psychological health. More recently, however, researchers have identified several downsides to the pursuit of self-esteem such as narcissism, ego-defensiveness, social comparisons, and the contingency and instability of self-worth. Research suggests that self-compassion is a healthier way of relating to oneself, offering the benefits of self-esteem without its downsides. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves kindly, like we would a close friend we cared about. Rather than making global evaluations of ourselves as “good” or “bad,” self-compassion involves generating kindness toward ourselves as imperfect humans, and learning to be present with the inevitable struggles of life with greater ease. It motivates us to make needed changes in our lives not because we’re worthless or inadequate, but because we care about ourselves and want to lessen our suffering. This talk will present theory and research on self-compassion, which a burgeoning empirical literature has shown to be powerfully associated with psychological well being.
It will distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, and discuss research indicating that self-compassion is a more powerful and effective motivational tool than self-criticism. A brief self-compassion practice will also be taught that can be used in daily life.