The self-attributed inadequacy may or may not imply a global negative self-view. Moreover, it may or may not be perceived as stable and uncontrollable. Only if it is perceived as uncontrollable and stable, shame will be associated with helplessness and hopelessness. Ashamed people may regard themselves as either responsible or non-responsible for a fault, but in any case, when experiencing pure shame , they are not considering responsibility issues.
In fact, although a self-evaluation of inadequacy may concern moral attributes — that is, harmful attributes for which one may view oneself as responsible — ashamed people are only considering the disappointing discrepancy between their ideal good self and their actual not so good self. The evaluation is negative in that such behaviors, goals, etc. Therefore, guilt implies a self-evaluation of responsible harmfulness , that is, wrongfulness.
The wrongdoing can be either actual or potential, that is, a possible consequence of personal traits and dispositions—provided the person views such traits as modifiable through effort thereby feeling responsible for not trying to modify them. In our view, the distinguishing criteria we have suggested allow to account for both the similarities and the differences between shame and guilt, as well as to clarify the most problematic cases. They explain how a moral fault can elicit shame rather than guilt; or, conversely, how a flaw of character can elicit guilt rather than shame.
We have also questioned the widespread view of shame as an ugly and maladaptive emotion, versus guilt as a prosocial and adaptive one.
What Is Guilt?
Either emotion and probably any emotion can be adaptive or maladaptive depending on contextual factors and the regulation strategies used e. Dysfunctionality is not intrinsic to the emotion, but depends on the emotion regulation skills of the experiencing person e. We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and helpful comments and suggestions. Maria Miceli , a social psychologist with a background in philosophy, is a senior researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council of Italy.
She has published papers in emotion psychology, social psychology, cognitive modelling, and distributed artificial intelligence, focusing on the cognitive aspects of social mechanisms and processes and their interplay with motivational and emotional components.
A cognitive scientist with a background in linguistics and psychology, also active in the multi-agent and social simulation communities, he has published papers on cognitive agent theory and architecture, cognitive foundations of social phenomena, cognition and emotion, multi-agent systems and social simulation. His most recent books include Trust theory and Expectancy and Emotion Without exploring here the cultural issue, which would deserve an in-depth treatment of its own, we acknowledge the possibility of cultural differences in shame, and in the responses that shame is more likely to elicit.
However, it is worth pointing out that shame can motivate prosocial behavior even in Western people, as found in the studies mentioned above. Whereas a perceived harm elicits anger, a wrong that is, a harm which is responsibly and unjustifiably inflicted elicits resentment. Not every experience of anger is perceived as grounded on a suffered wrong. The meaning of inappropriateness is so wide to include both insufficiency and harmfulness. In the following, when speaking of self-evaluations of responsible harmfulness, we will presuppose that one also perceives the harm as unjustified.
However, not every attainment or frustration of goals has equal impact on self-esteem, though it may lead to self-evaluations. The authors have no funding to report. The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Eur J Psychol v. Eur J Psychol. Published online Aug Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Nov 17; Accepted Apr Copyright notice. Abstract Although most researchers maintain that shame and guilt are distinct emotions, the debate on their differences is still open.
Keywords: guilt, shame, self-evaluation, inadequacy, harmfulness, moral emotions, responsibility, self-esteem. Kinds of Failure or Transgression Three possible kinds of fault have been identified: the public versus private experience of the fault; its proscriptive versus prescriptive nature; and the moral versus the both moral and nonmoral nature of the fault.
Proscriptive Versus Prescriptive According to Sheikh and Janoff-Bulman , proscriptive violations doing something one should not do would elicit shame, whereas prescriptive violations not doing something one should do would elicit guilt. Kinds of Action Tendencies Guilt has been found to lead to repair action tendencies, such as apologizing, amending, and undoing, whereas shame appears to favor withdrawal and escape behaviors, as well as hostile and self-defensive reactions e.
Self Versus Behavior This distinction does not focus either on the motivational implications of shame versus guilt or on the different kinds of fault which would provoke these emotions. Cognitive, Emotional, and Psychopathological Implications of Shame and Guilt Shame, especially shame-proneness, is often associated with anger e. Our Distinguishing Criteria As discussed so far, shame and guilt do not seem to be distinguishable from each other according to such criteria as the kinds of fault that elicit these emotions, their action tendencies, and their adaptive versus maladaptive implications.
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5 Tips for Dealing with Guilt
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Guilt (emotion) - Wikipedia
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