Kuram ve Uygulamada Eğitim Bilimleri • Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 13(4) • 2087-2104

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SARICAOĞLU, ARSLAN / An Investigation into Psychological Well-being Levels of Higher Education Students with Respect...


found to be significant predictors of the subscale of 

life purpose. 

Self-compassion, together with personal 

characteristics, accounts for 44% of the variance in 

self-acceptance. Self-compassion and extroversion 

were positive predictors; while neuroticism was 

negative a negative predictor in the self-acceptance 

subscale of psychological well-being.


In the present study, it was found that there was a 

significant positive correlation between all subscales 

of psychological well-being and self-compassion. 

Self-compassion and self-acceptance are the most 

conspicuous subscales of psychological well-being. 

Self-acceptance implies that the individual has a 

positive attitude towards himself/herself. It involves 

adopting a positive attitude towards oneself, 

accepting both the positive and negative sides of 

the self and having positive emotions about past 

experiences. Self-compassion involves being open 

to one’s suffering rather than avoiding it, identifying 

oneself with that suffering, the desire to alleviate 

that suffering and showing affection and the 

most importantly, understanding one’s own grief, 

deficiencies and failures without judging them as 

a part of gaining new experiences. In this regard, 

it is seen that the basic ideas of self-compassion 

and psychological well-being are similar to each 

other. The relations between them lend support 

to this. It was found that there was a significant 

correlation between all subscales of psychological 

well-being and personal characteristics. It was 

found that there was a strong significant correlation 

between the subscales of environmental mastery 

and self-acceptance and extroversion; between the 

subscales of autonomy and personal development 

and openness to experience to experiences and 

between the subscale of purpose in life and 

responsibility. When the literature is examined, 

it is seen that there was a significant correlation 

between the subscales in the studies that focused on 

the relationship between the Five Factor Personality 

Theory and psychological well-being (Schmutte & 

Ryff, 1997; Grant, Langan-Fox, & Anglim 2009). 

Schmutte and Ryff (1997) found that there was a 

significant positive correlation between personal 

growth, openness to experience to new experiences 

and extroversion; between positive relations with 

others and agreeableness and extroversion and 

between environmental mastery, purpose in life 

and responsibility. In Grant et al. (2009) study, 

extroversion, neuroticism and responsibility were 

found to be the predictors of both subjective and 

psychological well-being. When the findings of 

the present study and those in the literature are 

compared, it is seen that these findings are parallel, 

although there are some differences in an overall 


The findings of the present study indicated that 

self-compassion explained 15% of positive relations 

with others, but when personality traits were added, 

the predictive power increased up to 34%. These 

results suggest that the dimension of personal 

characteristics has a higher explanatory power 

than that of self-compassion. When the predictors 

of positive relations with others as a subscale of 

psychological well-being are examined it is found 

that extroversion as a personality trait was the most 

important predictor in line with its high predictive 

power. Zıskıs (2010) found that the most significant 

predictor of the subscale of positive relations with 

others is extroversion. In extroverts such qualities 

as being sociable, talkative, being friendly and 

self-opening come to the fore. Extroverts are more 

successful in establishing close relations with 

others, which is one of the basic needs of humans 

as social beings and establishing secure relations. 

Therefore, they are expected to be in a better 

psychological condition.

The results of the present study revealed that 

self-compassion and personal characteristics 

account for 17% of the variance in autonomy, and 

the most significant predictors of autonomy are 

self-compassion, agreeableness and openness to 

experience. In the studies by Keyes et al. (2002) 

and Zıskıs (2010), it was found that the subscale of 

autonomy negatively correlated with neuroticism, 

and the one with the highest predictive power was 

neuroticism. Christopher (1999) notes that Ryff’ 

considers autonomy as equal to individualization 

and self-regulation of behaviour. Autonomous 

individuals regulate their behaviours through 

internal powers, and they assess themselves with 

their own personal standards. When we consider 

that self-compassion is a significant predictor of 

autonomy according to the results of the present 

study, it can be said that how individuals with self-

compassion approach their own problems indicates 

that they regulate their own behaviours internally. 

We see that agreeableness has emerged as a negative 

predictor in the study. Agreeable individuals are 

those who are polite, courteous, flexible, well-

tempered, forgiving, soft-hearted, tolerant, humble, 

supportive, flexible, and they establish emotional 

affinity with others. The good-tempered individuals 

E D U C A T I O N A L   S C I E N C E S :   T H E O R Y   &   P R A C T I C E


might approach others’ behaviours in a naive 

manner. We might assume that since they might be 

modest individuals rather than voicing their desires 

in interpersonal relations, and individuals who 

comply with joint decisions, they have not developed 

autonomy. Another personal characteristic that 

predicts autonomy is being open to new experiences. 

The individuals who are open to new experiences 

acquire real-life experiences and get acquainted with 

different cultures, and they are able to show self-

resistance during these experiences. This indicates 

that they have developed autonomy.

The variables that predict environmental mastery as 

a subscale of psychological well-being were found 

to be self-compassion, responsibility, extroversion, 

neuroticism. The findings of the studies that 

focused on correlation between personal traits 

and psychological well-being (Keyes et al., 2002; 

Schmutte & Ryff, 1997; Zıskıs, 2010) support 

well with those of the present study. Ryff (1989b) 

defines environmental mastery as the ability of the 

individual “to create or select an environment that 

is compatible with the individual’s personal and 

psychological characteristics”. Those individuals 

who dominate their environments are people who 

are able to use opportunities around themselves 

effectively and shape the environmental conditions 

in line with their own needs and values. Individuals 

with self-compassion are aware that problems in 

life are not only for themselves but also for others. 

Extroverts are able to understand others’ feelings, 

since they develop empathic relations with them. 

People who lead an emotionally balanced life tend 

to experience positive emotions. Individuals who 

feel responsible are ready to cope with problems. 

From an integrated perspective that combines 

all of these properties, extroverts with a sense 

of self-compassion, who are interested in their 

environments and have a sense of responsibility 

and who seek positive feelings are expected to have 

high levels of environmental mastery.

The analysis that was carried out to determine 

the predictors of personal development subscale 

revealed that openness to experience and self-

compassion were positive predictors, while 

neuroticism was a negative one. This finding of 

the study supports well with those in the literature 

(Keyes et al., 2002; Schmutte & Ryff, 1997; Zıskıs, 

2010). Ryff (1989a) defines personal development as 

“the ability to develop one’s potentials, so that he/she 

could develop and grow individually”. Individuals 

with higher levels of personal development desire 

to see themselves as a person who is developing 

and growing, to be open to innovations, to be 

able to feel that they can use their potentials, 

to see that there is development in behaviours 

and in themselves, to get to know themselves 

and think that they are developing effectively. 

Being open to new experiences as one of the five 

factors involves individuals’ tendencies to desire 

new experiences, being authentic and free when 

describing themselves, being curious and frank. 

In this respect, it is expected that individuals who 

are open to new experiences are content with their 

personal growth. Self-compassionate individuals 

might think that they have some deficiencies and 

they approach these deficiencies from the lens 

of kindness. This in turn might motivate them to 

compensate for these deficiencies. The continuity 

of the emotions in individuals who are at peace 

with themselves and who are open to development 

indicates that their motivation is permanent rather 

than temporary. Since the individuals who do not 

experience emotional instability are highly self-

confident, they do not avoid making attempts. 

In addition, since they are self-compassionate, 

and waiting to develop, these individuals will be 

supported in terms of personal development.

Purpose in life means the properties of direction, 

aims and purposefulness that add meaning to their 

lives. Purpose of life involves individuals’ feeling 

that the past and present life has a meaning; existing 

in life has a meaning, having prospective aims and 

objectives, and the most importantly there is a 

purpose in life. The individuals who fail to adopt 

a positive attitude towards the problems in life; in 

other words, those who lack self-compassion might 

continue their lives in depression by ruminating 

on such problems rather than solving them. 

Depression is a situation that triggers the perception 

of worthlessness. Furthermore, depression is 

a neurotic disorder; that is, it is a pathological 

situation that includes emotional imbalance. When 

these findings are considered, emotionally stable 

and self-compassionate individuals are expected to 

succeed in seeing their lives more positively, making 

their lives worthier and maintain their lives in line 

with the purposes of their lives. It is thought that 

this boosts their psychological well-being levels.

Ryff (1989a) defines self-acceptance as a person’s 

having a positive attitude towards himself/herself. 

Self-acceptance implies a person’s having a positive 

attitude towards himself/herself. Accepting 

different properties of the self with its positive 

and negative aspects and having positive attitudes 

towards one’s past are the main components 

SARICAOĞLU, ARSLAN / An Investigation into Psychological Well-being Levels of Higher Education Students with Respect...


of self-acceptance. Another dimension of self-

compassion is that individuals treat each other with 

affection; that is, they exhibit more compassion 

than criticism towards themselves. Individuals with 

kindness have a positive and courteous attitude 

towards themselves rather than harshly criticizing 

themselves. The individual’s having a positive 

attitude towards himself/herself is the common 

point in self-acceptance and self-perception. 

Introverts like being among people and appear in 

social environments. Therefore it can be thought 

that such individuals who go down well with the 

society might have a positive self-perception. In 

this regard, the individual who is aware of social 

acceptance will recognize the positive side of him/

her and accept it. The individuals who possess 

emotional balance as a part of their characteristics 

are content with themselves (Friedman & Schustack, 

1999), and they tend to experience positive feelings 

(McCrae & John, 1992). In this regard, when we 

consider the predictors in an integrated fashion, we 

can assume that self-compassion forms the basis of 

self-acceptance, while extroversion and emotional 

stability contribute to this. It can be noted that 

individuals’ self-acceptance might contribute to 

their psychological well-being.

When the findings of the study are considered 

globally, it is seen that the impact of self-compassion 

and personality traits is highly significant in terms 

of psychological well-being. In this respect, we can 

carry out experimental studies to boost the self-

compassion levels of individuals and contribute 

to the development of psychological well-being of 

new generations through such activities as contact 

meetings and parental schools to help families 

acquire positive personality traits.


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