We tested whether a mirror could enhance the efficacy of a self-compassion manipulation in increasing soothing positive affect and heart rate variability (HRV). Eighty-six participants generated four phrases they would use to soothe and encourage their best friend. Second, they described an episode where they criticized themselves and were assigned to one of three conditions: (a) repeat the four phrases to themselves while looking at the mirror; (b) repeat the four phrases to themselves without the mirror; (c) look at themselves in the mirror without repeating the phrases. Participants in condition (a) reported higher levels of ‘soothing’ positive affect and HRV compared to participants in conditions (b) and (c). The effect of the ‘phrases at the mirror’ manipulation on soothing affect was mediated by increased common humanity. The mirror enhances the efficacy of this self-compassion manipulation in activating the soothing affect system connected with parasympathetic nervous system activity.
- heart rate variability
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