Participant descriptions of guilt and shame
- Cite this article as:
- Wicker, F.W., Payne, G.C. & Morgan, R.D. Motiv Emot (1983) 7: 25. doi:10.1007/BF00992963
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The purpose of this research was to see if naive raters could distinguish between guilt and shame in ways consistent with the descriptions of emotion theorists. In two studies, 152 participants recalled occasions on which they had experienced guilt or shame and rated these experiences on a large number of scales that represented either basic dimensions of emotion or attributes previously postulated to differentiate between these two emotions. Shame and guilt situations differed on a number of attributes, including felt powerfulness, self-control, self-consciousness and exposure, activity, inferiority, surprise, alienation from others, facial sensation, self-attribution of justice, and expectation of punishment. Many commonalities in the meaning of the two concepts were also suggested, most importantly in terms of basic attributes such as pain, tension, and arousal. Results were consistent with several previous accounts of the essential differences between guilt and shame, but not with all such descriptions.