Differences in Electromyography during Self-Compassionate and Self-Critical Imageries According to the Level of Self-Criticism
The aim of this study was to analyze changes in muscle activity between high and low self-critical participants during the imagery of self-compassion, self-protection, and self-criticism. Muscle activity was measured by the Biopac MP36 while participants were listening to the imagery audio recording. Levels of self-criticism were measured by The Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale (FSCRS; Gilbert et al., 2004). From overall number of 110 participants, 30 participants were selected for further analysis based on their extreme level of self-criticism. The research sample consisted of 15 participants with high level of self-criticism and 15 with low level of self-criticism. The results showed that participants with higher levels of self-criticism had similar levels of muscle activity during the self-critical and self-protective phases of imagery. However, during the last self-compassionate imagery, participants with lower self-criticism returned to the baseline EMG levels, while those with higher self-criticism remained at high EMG levels. The results showed lower muscle activity in low self-critics while imagining inner compassionate part meaning. Therefore, low self-critics are probably better able to calm themselves down compared to high self-critics.
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