Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 69–80 | Cite as

The relation between value priorities and proneness to guilt, shame, and empathy

  • Mia SilfverEmail author
  • Klaus Helkama
  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist
  • Markku Verkasalo
Original Paper


The relations of value priorities (the Schwartz Value Survey) to guilt, shame (Tangney’s Test of Self-Conscious Affect) and empathy (Davis’ Interpersonal Reactivity Index) were examined in two samples, one of 15–19-year-old secondary school students (= 207), and the other of military conscripts (= 503). As hypothesized, guilt-proneness was, in both samples, positively related to valuing universalism, benevolence, tradition, and conformity, and negatively related to valuing power, hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction. The results for empathic concern and perspective-taking were similar, but their relation to the openness–conservation value dimension was weaker. Shame and personal distress were weakly related to values, suggesting that voluntary control is less important for these tendencies. In general, self-transcendence and conservation values seem compatible with prosocial tendencies, whereas self-enhancement and openness do not.


Values Guilt Shame Empathy 



This study was financially supported by the Academy of Finland, grant number 210618.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mia Silfver
    • 1
    Email author
  • Klaus Helkama
    • 1
  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist
    • 2
  • Markku Verkasalo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Social PsychologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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