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A functionalist account of shame induced behavior



Recent research has shown that shame activates both a restore and a protect motive (De Hooge, Zeelenberg, & Breugelmans, 2010), explaining the hitherto unexpected finding that shame can lead to both approach and avoidance behaviours. In the present article we show a clear difference in priority and development of restore and protect motives over time. Our experiment reveals that shame mainly motivates approach behaviour to restore the damaged self, but that this restore motive decreases when situational factors make it too risky or difficult to restore. In contrast, the motive to protect one's damaged self from further harm is not influenced by such situational factors. As a consequence, the approach behaviour that shame activates may change over time. These findings add to our understanding of the motivational processes and behaviours following from shame.
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A functionalist account of shame-induced
Ilona E. de Hooge a , Marcel Zeelenberg b & Seger M. Breugelmans b
a Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
b Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Available online: 24 May 2011
To cite this article: Ilona E. de Hooge, Marcel Zeelenberg & Seger M. Breugelmans (2011): A functionalist
account of shame-induced behaviour, Cognition & Emotion, 25:5, 939-946
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A functionalist account of shame-induced behaviour
Ilona E. de Hooge
Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Marcel Zeelenberg and Seger M. Breugelmans
Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Recent research has shown that shame activates both a restore and a protect motive (De Hooge,
Zeelenberg, & Breugelmans, 2010), explaining the hitherto unexpected finding that shame can lead
to both approach and avoidance behaviours. In the present article we show a clear difference in
priority and development of restore and protect motives over time. Our experiment reveals that
shame mainly motivates approach behaviour to restore the damaged self, but that this restore motive
decreases when situational factors make it too risky or difficult to restore. In contrast, the motive to
protect one’s damaged self from further harm is not influenced by such situational factors. As a
consequence, the approach behaviour that shame activates may change over time. These findings add
to our understanding of the motivational processes and behaviours following from shame.
Keywords: Shame; Motivation; Restore; Protect; Approach behaviour.
How do people behave when feeling ashamed over
failing on an important task? Are they motivated
to redo the task, reaffirming their capability, or do
they shun performance situations to avoid further
mistakes? The answer to this question is indefi-
nite; some studies show that shame motivates
withdrawal (e.g., Scherer & Wallbott, 1994),
while others show that shame motivates approach
(e.g., De Hooge, Breugelmans, & Zeelenberg,
2008; Tangney, Miller, Flicker, & Barlow, 1996).
We explain how shame can promote such appar-
ently opposing behaviours by focusing on the
motives of shame and on how these develop over
time. Our data reveal that shame is associated with
both restore and protect motives that interact with
the situation to facilitate either approach or
avoidance behaviour.
Shame is ‘‘one of the most powerful, painful,
and potentially destructive experiences known to
humans’’ (Gilbert, 1997, p. 113). It arises mainly
after moral transgressions or incompetence and
gives rise to feelings of worthlessness, inferiority,
and a damaged self-image (Ausubel, 1955;
Tangney, 1999). From the abundance of research
on shame one may conclude that this emotion and
its consequences are thoroughly understood.
Correspondence should be addressed to: Ilona E. de Hooge, Department of Marketing Management, Rotterdam School of
Management, Erasmus University, PO Box 1738, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
2011, 25 (5), 939946
939#2010 Psychology Press, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business DOI:10.1080/02699931.2010.516909
Downloaded by [Tilburg University] at 01:21 11 August 2011
Unfortunately, we know little about what beha-
viours shame motivates, because the relevant find-
ings are contradictory. Some studies find shame to
promote avoidance behaviours such as withdrawal
and a willingness to hide (e.g., Scherer & Wallbott,
1994; Wicker, Payne, & Morgan, 1983). Other
studies find shame to motivate approach beha-
viours such as prosocial behaviour and a willingness
to make amends (e.g., De Hooge et al., 2008;
Tangney et al., 1996). Most shame theories have
been unable to explain this; they generally state that
shame induces avoidance and ignore the possible
activation of approach motivations and behaviours
(e.g., Lewis, 1992; Tangney, 1999).
Recently, we provided an explanation for these
seemingly contradictory results (De Hooge et al.,
2010). Our explanation centres around the notion
that the self is the primary object of shame. Having
a positive self-view is a core motive (e.g., Tesser,
1988). People are often motivated to maintain and
defend positive evaluations of the self (Rogers,
1959). A positive self-view can counteract the fears
that arise from an awareness of inevitable death
(Pyszczynski, Greenberg, Solomon, Arndt, &
Schimel, 2004), and may function as a sociometer
that reflects the extent of peoples inclusion in
social groups (Leary & Baumeister, 2000). In
shame, it is exactly this positive self-view that is
According to functional approaches to emo-
tions, negative emotions signal a threatened goal or
concern and subsequently motivate behaviours to
deal with this problem (Frijda, 1986; Zeelenberg &
Pieters, 2006). At a social level, emotions coordi-
nate social interactions and relationships to meet
the problems of survival (Keltner & Haidt, 1999)
by informing the person about the specific events
that need to be acted upon and by preparing the
person to respond to problems that arise in social
interactions (Campos, Campos, & Barrett, 1989;
Oatley & Jenkins, 1996). Applying the functional
approach to shame leads us to suggest that the
motivations and behaviours associated with this
emotion are focused on dealing with the threat-
ened positive self-view. This may be done in
two ways (De Hooge et al., 2010). First, people
may show approach behaviour, such as entering
performance-orientated situations or undertaking
reparative actions, aimed at restoring the threa-
tened self. But, when affirmation is difficult or risky
in the sense that additional failure would hurt the
self-view even more, people may turn to avoidance
behaviour in order to protect the threatened self
from further harm.
The current paper presents two important
extensions of De Hooge et al. (2010). The first
extension is the replication of our previous
findings*based on studies using a scenario
approach*in a study on actual behaviour in a
lab experiment. Many emotion theories concern
the interplay between emotions and actions, but
hardly any empirical research directly tests these
relationships. We previously tested this relation-
ship for shame using a scenario approach, which
had the advantage of experimental control (i.e., a
situation can be created that resembles daily life
and all irrelevant factors can be held constant), but
the disadvantage that people may not always
be accurate in assessing their own behaviours.
A replication of our findings in a lab-experiment
would attest to the robustness of the effects.
The second extension concerns the develop-
ment of shame motives over time. De Hooge et al.
(2010) showed shame to activate a restore motive
as well as a protect motive, which jointly predicted
behaviour. We predict that the strength of these
motives changes over time. Shame initially acti-
vates a restore and a protect motive. However,
restoring the self may not be without risks in the
sense that it could result in an additional failure.
Therefore, when restoring the self appears to be
too difficult or risky in a particular situation, the
restore motive will diminish in strength and
approach behaviours become less apparent. In
contrast, protecting the self does not involve risky
endeavours. For that reason, the protect motive
should not be affected by situational influences.
As a consequence, the relative strength of the
restore and protect motives will change, and
approach behaviours will become less apparent.
We tested our hypothesis in a lab experiment in
which shame was induced and subsequently ap-
proach behaviour was measured by giving partici-
pants the possibility of choosing between two tasks
940 COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2011, 25 (5)
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in the lab. After measuring the restore and protect
motives with self-report scales, information about
the task difficulty was introduced to test the
hypothesised situational influence. Participants
then again decided what task they wanted to
engage in and indicated their motives underlying
their choice. We expected and found shame to
initially activate a restore and a protect motive, and
a preference for the achievement task (reflecting
approach behaviour). Because the restore motive
declines when approach behaviour is too difficult
or risky, we hypothesised the restore motive and
subsequently preference for the achievement task
to decline only in the shame condition where the
achievement task was presented as difficult. We
also hypothesised that the protect motive would
not change over time or differ across shame
Participants and design
One hundred fifty students at Erasmus University
(86 males and 64 females, M
19.78, SD
1.65) participated in a series of unrelated studies
in partial fulfilment of a course requirement. They
were randomly assigned to the conditions of a
2 (Emotion Condition: shame vs. control)
2 (Task Difficulty: easy vs. difficult) between-
subjects design with Restore, Protect, and Perfor-
mance choice as dependent variables.
Procedure and variables
Participants entered the laboratory in groups of
eight to twelve participants. They were seated in
separate cubicles and informed that the hour
consisted of multiple, unrelated studies. Emotions
were induced via an autobiographical recall proce-
dure (cf. De Hooge, Zeelenberg, & Breugelmans,
2007). In the Shame condition, participants
reported a personal experience in which they felt
very ashamed, while in the Control condition
participants described a regular weekday.
Next, participants could ostensibly choose their
subsequent task. They could choose between one
that was related to ones performance and abilities
(abilities task) and another that was totally
unrelated to performance and abilities (opinion
task). Participants were told that the ‘‘abilities
task’’ tested ones performance on academic
knowledge and skills; a higher score indicated
better performance and superior knowledge and
skills. The ‘‘opinion task’’ consisted of giving ones
opinion about different subjects; no right or wrong
answers could be given and scores were not
indicative of academic knowledge and skills at
all. Participants indicated which task they wanted
to do (Task choice time 1) and answered ten items
about the motivation for their choice. Motivation
items were adopted from De Hooge et al. (2010)
and consisted of a Restore scale (5 items, Restore
time 1,a.90) and a Protect scale (5 items, Protect
time 1,a.92). Examples for the Restore scale
are: ‘‘I wanted to improve my self-image’’ and
‘‘I wanted to ensure myself that I am competent’’,
and for the Protect scale are: ‘‘I wanted to avoid
more damage to my self-image’’ and ‘‘I wanted to
protect myself’’. Participants indicated the extent
to which each motive had influenced their choice
(1not at all,7very strongly).
To manipulate Task difficulty, participants
were then provided with several reactions that
previous participants had given after having
undertaken the ‘‘abilities task’’. After reading the
reactions, they could make their final choice
between the ‘‘abilities task’’ and ‘‘opinion task’’
(Task choice time 2). Participants in the Easy
condition read: ‘‘I really liked the abilities task a
lot. The questions were not very difficult and
I think I may have a high score’’,‘‘That capacities
test is easy man! I believe it is almost impossible to
fail’’, and ‘‘Did that test. Such easy questions. Cant
imagine that you wont make it’’. In the Difficult
condition, participants read: ‘‘I really didnt like
the abilities task. The questions were difficult and
I think I may have a low score’’,‘‘That capacities
test is difficult man! I believe it is almost
impossible to succeed’’, and ‘‘Did that test. Such
difficult questions. Cant imagine that you would
make it’’. After choosing a task, participants again
answered the Restore and Protect scales (Restore
time 2,a.92, Protect time 2,a.93).
COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2011, 25 (5) 941
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Participants continued by doing the task of
their choice. In reality, this task was the same task
in all conditions. Participants first answered fifteen
general-knowledge questions (adopted from Van
Harreveld, Van der Pligt, Nordgren, & Claassen,
2008) and then ten items that tested English-
language skills. Upon completion, participants
were given the possibility of writing down their
own opinion concerning the general-knowledge
questions and the English-language questions.
Finally, as a manipulation check, participants
re-read the shameful event or the normal weekday
that they had described and indicated how small
they felt, how alone they felt, how much they felt
that all attention was drawn towards them, how
much they did not want others to know about the
described event, and how much they were worried
about what others would think of them. These
items have been described in the emotion litera-
ture as basic elements of experiences of shame
(Breugelmans & Poortinga, 2006; Barrett, 1995).
Participants also indicated how much shame,
satisfaction, embarrassment, pride, guilt, regret,
relief, anger, and happiness they felt in the
situation (0not at all,10very strongly). After
the experiment participants were thanked and
Emotion manipulation check
The shame induction worked: Shamed partici-
pants scored significantly higher on all basic
elements of shame compared to Control partici-
pants, all ts(148)6.54, all psB.01, all h
They also felt significantly more shame (M
8.07, SD1.10) than Control participants
(M1.23, SD1.97), t(148)26.29, pB.01,
.82, and felt significantly more shame than
other emotions, all ts(74)2.95, all psB.01, all
Time 1 motives and performance
The findings supported our hypotheses (see
Table 1): Shamed participants reported a higher
Restore motive (M4.25, SD1.23) and a
higher Protect motive (M2.86, SD1.51)
than Control participants (M2.95, SD1.36
for Restore and M2.06, SD1.16 for Pro-
tect), t(148)6.16, pB.01, h
.20 for
Restore, t(148)3.60, pB.01, h
.08 for
Protect. In addition, more Shamed participants
wanted to engage in the abilities task (71%
in the Shame condition, 51% in the Con-
trol condition), x
(1, N150)6.29, p.01.
There was no difference in preference for the
abilities task between the Easy-Shame condi-
tion and the Difficult-Shame condition at this
point (72% in the Easy-Shame condition, 69%
in the Difficult-Shame condition), x
(1, N
75)0.05, p.82. In both the Shame condi-
tion and the Control condition there was
no correlation between Restore and Protect at
time 1, r.10, p.37, and r.20, p.09,
Time 2 motives and performance
Repeated-measures analyses supported our
hypotheses: results showed that only Restore but
not Protect changed over time dependent on the
emotion and on the difficulty of the task.
A repeated-measures analysis with Emotion
condition and Task difficulty as independent
between-subjects factors and Restore as dependent
within-subjects factor showed no main effect of
time, F(1, 146)0.05, p.82, h
B.01, no main
effect of Task difficulty, F(1, 146)0.40, p.53,
B.01, and a significant main effect of Emotion
condition, F(1, 146)36.66, pB.01, h
More importantly, the results showed a significant
three-way interaction, F(1, 146)5.92, p.02,
.04. Shamed participants in the Difficult
condition wanted to restore less at time 2 than
Shamed participants in the Easy condition,
A closely related emotion to shame is guilt (Tangney, 1999). However, guilt could not explain the effects on the restore or
protect motives: in all analyses, adding reported guilt as a covariate showed non-significant effects, while the effects of reported
shame remained significant.
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t(146)2.75, p.01, h
.05. They also wanted
to restore less than at time 1, t(35)3.27, p.01,
.23. Their motivation to restore at time 2 was
still somewhat higher than the restore motive of
Control participants in the Difficult condition,
t(146)2.17, p.03, h
.03. The restore
motive of Shamed participants in the Easy condi-
tion did not decrease: They still wanted to restore
more than Control participants in the Easy condi-
tion, t(146)5.09, pB.01, h
.15. They even
wanted to restore more at time 2 compared to time
1, t(38)2.73, p.01, h
.16. There were no
differences on Restore time 2 between the Easy-
Control condition and the Difficult-Control con-
dition, t(146)0.22, p.83, h
In contrast, the motivation to protect ones self
did not decrease over time. A repeated-measures
analysis with Emotion condition and Task
difficulty as independent between-subjects factors
and Protect as dependent within-subjects fac-
tor showed a significant main effect of time,
F(1, 146)7.62, pB.01, h
.05, no main
effect of Task difficulty, F(1, 146)0.15, p.70,
B.01, and a significant main effect of Emo-
tion condition, F(1, 146)11.95, pB.01, h
.08. More importantly, the results showed no
significant three-way interaction, F(1, 146)
0.09, p.76, h
B.01. Shamed participants in
the Difficult condition wanted to protect as much
as Shamed participants in the Easy condition at
time 2, t(146)0.09, p.93, h
B.01. They also
wanted to protect equally at time 2 compared to
time 1, t(35)1.78, p.08, h
.08. Just like at
time 1, Shamed participants in the Difficult
condition wanted to protect themselves more
than Difficult-Control participants, t(146)
2.28, p.02, h
.03. Shamed participants in
the Easy condition also wanted to protect equally
at time 2 compared to time 1, t(38)1.66, p
.11, h
.07. In addition, they wanted to protect
themselves more than Control participants in the
Easy condition, t(146)2.03, p.04, h
There were no differences on Protect time 2
between the Easy-Control condition and the
Difficult-Control condition, t(146)0.30, p
.76, h
Subsequently, Shamed participants in the
Difficult condition lowered their preference for
the abilities task. At time 2, 92% of the Shamed
participants in the Easy condition wanted to do
the abilities task, compared to only 63% of the
Shamed participants in the Difficult condition,
Table 1. Motivation and performance means (and standard deviations) as a function of emotion and task difficulty
Shame condition Control condition
Dependent variables M (SD)M(SD)M(SD)M(SD)
Restore motive
Time 1 4.22 (1.30) 4.28 (1.17) 2.81 (1.28) 3.07 (1.43)
Time 2 4.66 (1.19) 3.73 (1.61) 2.93 (1.39) 3.00 (1.61)
Protect motive
Time 1 2.91 (1.46) 2.80 (1.59) 2.11 (1.26) 2.02 (1.07)
Time 2 2.62 (1.38) 2.59 (1.64) 2.01 (1.16) 1.92 (0.93)
Abilities choice
Time 1 72% 69% 54% 48%
Time 2 92% 63% 69% 63%
Notes: Motivation scores could range from 1 (not at all)to7(very strongly), and Abilities choice could range from 0% (no participant preferred
the abilities task) to 100% (all participants preferred the abilities task). There are no significant differences between means separated by an
‘‘’’ sign, with all tsB0.84, all ps.40, or with x
sB0.34, all ps.56. Means separated by ‘‘’’ or ‘‘B’’ signs differ significantly with
t(146)2.75, pB.01, or with x
(1, N75)9.01, p.01.
COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2011, 25 (5) 943
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(1, N75)9.01, p.01. There was no
difference in preference for the abilities task
between the Easy-Control condition (69%) and
the Difficult-Control condition (63%), x
(1, N
75)0.30, p.58. Indeed, Shamed participants
in the Difficult condition now had the same
preference for the abilities task as Control parti-
cipants in the Difficult condition, x
(1, N
76)0.01, p.90, while Shamed participants
in the Easy condition still had a higher preference
for the abilities task than Control participants in
the Easy condition, x
(1, N74)9.78, p
To summarise, the data revealed that shame
initially motivates restore and protect motives as
well as approach behaviours aimed at restoring the
self. When this option appears to be too difficult
or risky, the restore motive and approach beha-
viour decline. The motive to protect the self from
further possible harm is not influenced by situa-
tion characteristics.
Our study supports a detailed and parsimonious
account of the seemingly complex ways in which
shame motivates behaviour. Shame is associated
with two motives: a restore motive to affirm
a positive self and a protect motive to avoid
further damage to the self. Shame primarily
activates approach behaviour to restore the self,
but when affirmation is too difficult or risky, the
restore motive diminishes while the protect
motive remains unaffected by these situational
influences. Consequently, the relative balance
between restore and protect motives shifts, and
approach behaviour becomes less apparent. Our
research clarifies how shame can activate both
avoidance and approach behaviours, something
that could not be explained by contemporary
shame theories. In addition, it extends our earlier
findings (see De Hooge et al., 2007, 2008, 2010)
in two important ways. First, our experiment
replicated the finding that shame stimulates
both restore motives and protect motives with
other research methods. Second, our experiment
showed that shame motives and behaviours can
change over time depending on the opportunities
to restore the self. These findings illustrate the
robustness of findings across different research
methods and contexts.
Our research also illuminates the distinction
between shame and guilt. Shame and guilt are
thought to be very similar emotions (Tangney
& Dearing, 2002), for which a difference can be
found in the ensuing behaviours. Theoretically,
shame is associated with avoidance behaviours
while guilt is associated with approach behaviours
(e.g., Barrett, 1995; Tangney, 1999), but empiri-
cal research has cast doubt on this distinction by
showing that shame may activate approach beha-
viours (De Hooge et al., 2008; Tangney et al.,
1996). Our data suggest that the psychological
origins and motivations of shame and guilt are
actually very different. Guilt signals a damaged
relationship partner and activates approach beha-
viour to maintain and enhance the relationship
(Baumeister, Stillwell, & Heatherton, 1994). In
contrast, shame signals damage to ones self-view
and activates approach behaviour to restore and
protect this view. Shame and guilt may thus both
activate approach behaviour, but for very different
The current study is also important for studies
on the interplay between emotions and actions.
Many emotion theories have elaborated upon
this relationship between emotions and behaviour
(e.g., Frijda, 1986; Keltner & Haidt, 1999;
Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2006), but there is hardly
any empirical evidence to corroborate such the-
ories. As such, our study can be considered as one
of the first to directly address the question of how
emotions lead to behaviours.
Our work has several practical implications.
First, it may help people who are struggling with
The effects of our manipulation on Restore, Protect, and on Task choice cannot be explained by other emotions than shame.
Regression analyses with the reported emotions satisfaction, embarrassment, pride, guilt, regret, relief, anger, and happiness as
predictors and Restore, Protect, or Task choice as dependent variables showed no significant effects.
944 COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2011, 25 (5)
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shame feelings in everyday life. Shame is a
negative feeling and people may have a hard
time in dealing with negative feelings. Our study
suggests that negative feelings need not have
negative consequences. Shame may help to moti-
vate recovery of ones damaged self-view, for
example by engaging in social activities or deve-
loping a new skill, as long as the new undertaking
does not make self-affirmation too difficult or
risky. Second, our work provides suggestions for
audiences to help others overcome their shame
experiences. Audiences can help ashamed people
by providing an approach situation in which the
shamed person can affirm the self without
difficulties or risks. Only when such easy and
riskless solutions are not available, might it be
better to provide a setting where the shamed
person can protect the self from further possible
There are two methodological remarks con-
cerning our study. First, one might suggest that
mediational analyses with reported shame as a
mediator is necessary to further support our
hypothesis. A mediational model usually stands
as additional evidence for the causal role played by
shame at the person level. However, in our
experiment the effects of shame on motivations
and on approach behaviour were manipulated at
the situational level. Due to the successful manip-
ulations, there are strong ceiling effects in the
shame ratings. Consequently, there is hardly any
variance on the relevant factors, which media-
tional analyses need to determine relationships
between factors. Thus, reported shame cannot
mediate motivations and approach tendencies
within the conditions of our experiment.
A second remark concerns the use of self-
report measures. Self-report scales enable mea-
surement of factors that are not measurable with
other methods such as physiological instruments.
This certainly applies to factors such as motiva-
tions or action tendencies experienced after an
emotional event. Although participants may not
always be equally good in estimating their moti-
vations or future behaviour, we have no reason to
assume that we would find different results by
using methods other than self-report measures in
our studies.
Applying a functional approach has helped us to
develop a better understanding of how shame elicits
motivations and behaviour over time. It is now
possible to predict and understand what people do
when experiencing shame: they try to satisfy the
motive of having a positive self-view by engaging in
restorative behaviour, but change this strategy to
more protective actions when affirmation is too
difficult or risky. With this new knowledge, it
appears that time has come to develop a more
positive, and less ugly view of shame.
Manuscript received 28 September 2009
Revised manuscript received 10 June 2010
Manuscript accepted 15 June 2010
First published online 28 October 2010
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... Due to the strong linkage of shame to the self-concept, its regulation is regarded as challenging (Velotti et al., 2017). Nevertheless, the individual motivation to regulate shame is high (de Hooge et al., 2011). This is probably mainly due to the fact that after a failure, the focus of attention is directed to negative selfrepresentations which are immediately activated (Tracy & Robins, 2004). ...
... The intervention was designed based on positive psychology (Seligman et al., 2009). To minimize the risk of re-experiencing shame for the same negative aspect (de Hooge et al., 2011), it was not supposed to address shame directly, but instead increase resilience towards shame experiences on grounds of resource orientation (e.g., Brown, 2006). From an emotion regulation perspective, the intervention should facilitate individuals' attention to positive events and thus promote cognitive change regarding the individual's control over shame-inducing events (Harley et al., 2019). ...
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Shame is an unpleasant and activating emotion that affects learners' achievement, including in mathematics, and pre-service teachers' identity development. It is closely connected with the self. The current study investigated the efficacy of an intervention adapted from positive psychology aiming to reduce pre-service primary teachers' shame in mathematics. Accordingly, the three good things technique was adapted with respect to the self. The efficacy of the intervention was analyzed in comparison to a qualified control group and a control group receiving no intervention. Participants were allocated at random to the three groups. In total, n = 176 pre-service primary school teachers took part in the experiment for a duration of five weeks with exercises twice a week. Findings suggest small positive effects of the adapted intervention on shame reduction in mathematics and superior effects in comparison to both control groups.
... For instance, shame is often associated with avoidance tendencies (Schmader & Lickel, 2006). However, shame has also been shown to motivate approach behaviors to restore the positive reputation of an individual's social identity, and this may be preferable to avoidance if there is minimal risk of further damage (de Hooge et al., 2010(de Hooge et al., , 2011. However, the preference for approach or avoidance may also depend upon the individual's willingness to internalize shame. ...
... Further, the finding by Greville-Harris et al. (2016) that invalidated participants were least inclined to participate in further research may be explained by shame-related avoidance. These results also support accounts that shame is associated with attempts to restore a damaged social identity if this can be done without further damage (de Hooge et al., 2010(de Hooge et al., , 2011. For instance, some participants in the present study chose to amend their narrative for re-disclosure to the original recipient after being invalidated, whereas others opted to preserve their narrative and re-disclose to a new recipient. ...
Research on disclosure of sexual victimization has consistently demonstrated that the act of disclosure and the disclosure recipient have a synergistic effect in facilitating either positive or negative post-assault outcomes. While negative judgments such as victim blame have been argued to serve a silencing function, experimental investigations of this claim are lacking. The current study investigated whether invalidating feedback in response to self-disclosure of a personally distressing event produced feelings of shame, and whether shame influenced subsequent decisions around re-disclosure. Feedback type (validating, invalidating, no feedback) was manipulated in a sample of 142 college students. Results partially supported the hypothesis that shame resulted from invalidation, however shame was better predicted by individual perceptions of invalidation than the experimental manipulation. Although few participants opted to make changes to the content of their narrative for re-disclosure, those who did had higher levels of state shame. Results suggest that shame may be the affective mechanism by which invalidating judgments silence victims of sexual violence. The present study also supports the distinction previously made between Restore and Protect motivations in managing this shame. This study provides experimental support for the notion that an aversion to being shamed, communicated via an individual’s perception of emotional invalidation, features in judgments of re-disclosure. Perceptions of invalidation, however, vary individually. Professionals working with victims of sexual violence should be mindful of the importance of shame attenuation in facilitating and encouraging disclosure.
... As a result, we can experience shame as selfaccusation, and perhaps open up and confess to restore a damaged personal relationship with someone close to us (Solomon, 1993). From a social functional perspective, shame motivates behaviors that help preserve "positive" self-views (de Hooge et al., 2010), including approach or reparation behaviors like apologies. Thus, "an unpleasant emotion may be desirable if it promotes goal pursuit, despite the fact that it involves displeasure, which itself is undesirable" (Tamir et al., 2016, p. 68). ...
... Furthermore, research suggests that behavioral responses of individuals who experience shame on a regular basis-that is, those who are shame prone-do not necessarily map onto transient, situational experiences of shame Nelissen et al., 2013). State shame can lead to prosocial, approach behaviors (de Hooge, 2014;de Hooge et al., 2010de Hooge et al., , 2011de Hooge et al., , 2018 in situations where restoration of the social self is possible through reparative actions (Leach and Cidam, 2015). This is similar to research showing that social exclusion motivates reparative, affiliative behavior to the extent that face-to-face opportunities for reconnection are made available (Maner et al., 2007;Sommer and Bernieri, 2015). ...
Exclusion from social relationships is a painful experience that may threaten an individual’s status and dominance. The steroid hormone testosterone, which fluctuates rapidly in response to such threats, may be implicated in subsequent behavioral action (e.g., aggressive or prosocial responses) that aims to protect or enhance one’s status after exclusion. Past research, however, indicates that the link between acute changes in testosterone and behavior depend on context-relevant individual dispositions. In the context of social exclusion, an individual’s level of shame proneness—characterized by a tendency to experience shame and to react submissively—is theoretically relevant to the testosterone-induced aggression relationship but has yet to be examined empirically. Here, men (n =167) were randomly assigned to be socially included or excluded in the virtual ball-tossing game, Cyberball, after which aggressive behavior was examined using the Point Subtraction Aggression Paradigm (PSAP). Testosterone reactivity was measured via salivary hormone samples collected pre- and post-game. Moderated multiple regression analyses were run to examine the extent to which testosterone reactivity and shame proneness moderated the effect of Cyberball condition on aggression. Results revealed a significant two-way interaction between Cyberball condition and testosterone reactivity, as well as a three-way interaction including shame proneness. For individuals low in shame proneness, exclusion was associated with higher post-cyberball aggression among those who experienced a rise in testosterone but was associated with lower post-cyberball aggression among those who experienced a decrease in testosterone. For individuals high in shame proneness, however, exclusion did not meaningfully affect aggressive responses, regardless of whether they experienced an increase or decrease in testosterone. These findings extend our understanding of the moderating roles of context and disposition on the neuroendocrinology of aggression in social interaction.
... It has been suggested that shame may motivate NSSI as self-punishment (de Hooge et al., 2011;Lickel et al., 2014). Shame may act as a trigger for NSSI, insofar as NSSI is a means to regulate shame. ...
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Urgency, the trait-like tendency to respond to heightened emotion states with rash action, has been associated with both non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide attempts (Lynam et al., 2011). Limited research has sought to identify specific emotions that may trigger NSSI or suicide attempts for those with high urgency. We examined shame as a candidate emotion. We hypothesized that greater shame-proneness, in combination with greater urgency, would explain unique variance in NSSI and suicide attempt history in two community samples (Ns = 192 and 225). Logistic and negative binomial regression analyses examined the effects of shame, urgency, and their interaction on the presence (vs. absence) and frequency of NSSI and suicide attempts. The proposed interaction of shame and urgency was related to greater risk and frequency of NSSI and suicide attempts when examining simple slopes, across the six models tested, particularly when urgency was high. Further research should examine shame as a trigger for self-harm in the context of heightened urgency using time series designs.
Applying an integrated mode of labeling theory, this study conducted an empirical analysis of 427 probationers from 48 judicial offices in China. The results found that, after controlling for age, gender, educational background, marital status, and social support, perceived discrimination is positively correlated with social alienation; shame plays a partial positive mediating role in the relationship between perceived discrimination and social alienation. Additionally, Zhongyong thinking can moderate the direct effect of perceived discrimination on social alienation and the mediating effect of shame in a negative way. The results further empirically validated an integrated model of labeling theory.
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Medical error can be a devastating experience for medical practitioners who are often called the "second victims" of medical mistakes. The emotional toll medical error takes on doctors is not well understood, with few studies investigating shame and/or guilt in response to making mistakes. This essay considers how fiction and medical nonfiction might contribute to this understanding, by exploring the relation between shame, guilt, and medical error in Ann Patchett's novel State of Wonder (2011) alongside Danielle Ofri's autobiographical reflections in her essay, "Ashamed to Admit It: Owning up to Medical Error," later reprinted as part of a chapter entitled "Burning with Shame" in What Doctors Feel (2013).
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For centuries economists and psychologists (Frank, 19888. Frank , R. H. (1988) . Passions within reason: The strategic role of the emotions . New York : Norton . (Originally published 1988) View all references; Ketelaar, 200413. Ketelaar , T. 2004. “Ancestral emotions, current decisions: Using evolutionary game theory to explore the role of emotions in decision-making”. In Evolutionary psychology, public policy and personal decisions, Edited by: Crawford , C. and Salmon , C. 145–163. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. View all references; Smith, 1759) have argued that moral emotions motivate cooperation. Ketelaar and Au (200314. Ketelaar , T. and Au , W. T. 2003. The effects of guilt on the behaviour of uncooperative individuals in repeated social bargaining games: An affect-as-information interpretation of the role of emotion in social interaction. Cognition and Emotion, 17: 429–453. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]View all references) recently found first evidence that guilt increases cooperation for proselfs in social bargaining games. We investigated whether this effect would also occur for shame, another moral emotion. Using a dyadic social dilemma game in Experiment 1 and an everyday cooperation measure in Experiment 2 as measures for short-term cooperation, we replicated Ketelaar and Au's findings for guilt. However, as predicted on the basis of previous emotion research, we found no such effect for shame. These results clearly indicate that the effects of moral emotions on cooperative behaviour can only be understood if the specific moral emotion is known.
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Shame has been found to promote both approach and withdrawal behaviours. Shame theories have not been able to explain how shame can promote such contrasting behaviours. In the present article, the authors provide an explanation for this. Shame was hypothesised to activate approach behaviours to restore the threatened self, and in situations when this is not possible or too risky, to activate withdrawal behaviours to protect the self from further damage. Five studies with different shame inductions and different dependent measures confirmed our predictions. We therefore showed that different behavioural responses to shame can be understood in terms of restore and protect motives. Implications for theory and behavioural research on shame are discussed.
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Makes explicit a reconceptualization of the nature of emotion that over the past decade has fostered the study of emotion regulation. In the past, emotions were considered to be feeling states indexed by behavioral expressions: now, emotions are considered to be processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting the relation between the organism and the environment on matters of significance to the person. When emotions were conceptualized in the traditional way as feelings, emotion regulation centered on ego-defense mechanisms and display rules. The former was difficult to test; the latter was narrow in scope. By contrast, the notion of emotions as relational processes has shifted interest to the study of person/environment transactions in the elicitations of emotion and to the functions of action tendencies, emotional "expressions," language, and behavioral coping mechanisms. The article also treats the importance of affect in the continuity of self-development by documenting the impressive stability of at least two emotional dispositions: irritability and inhibition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
In this chapter, I describe a model of shame and guilt development that highlights the importance of these emotions for regulation of both the individual's transactions with the environment and the individual's devel­opment of self. The model is described in terms of seven basic principles. Principle 1: Shame and guilt are "social emotions." As such, they are (1) socially constructed, (2) invariably connected with (real or imagined) social interaction, (3) endowed with significance by social communication and/or relevance to desired ends (see below), and (4) associated with appreciations (appraisals) regarding others, as well as the self. Principle 2: Shame and guilt serve important functions. The shame "family" and the guilt "family," like other emotion "families" (groups of related emotions), are defined in terms of the intrapersonal-, interpersonal-, and behavior-regulatory functions they serve for the individual. Shame reflects and organizes different transactions between individuals and environment more than guilt does. Moreover, the differences in functions served by shame versus guilt are observable. For example, shame functions to distance the individual from the social environment; guilt functions to motivate reparative action. Principle 3: Shame and guilt are associated with particular appreciations (appraisals), and these appreciations are different for shame than they are for guilt. Appreciations are intimately connected to the functions that the emotions serve for the individual in the environment. Principle 4: Shame and guilt each are associated with particular action tendencies, which make sense given the appreciations and functions they involve. Shame is associated with avoidance and withdrawal Guilt, on the other hand, is associated with outward movement, aimed at reparation for a wrongdoing. Principle 5: Shame and guilt aid in the development of a sense of self. Shame and guilt experiences contribute in important ways to the child's development of a sense of self. Such experiences highlight the importance and consequences of a child's behavior, including successes and failures. As a result, they highlight the kind of behaviors the child can (or cannot) and does (or does not) do. In addition, such experiences highlight how others view the child and his or her behavior, which also helps the child to learn how to evaluate himself or herself. Principle 6: Cognitive understandings do not determine the emergence of shame and guilt. Broad cognitive understandings, such as of "the categorical self," standards and rules for behavior, or personal responsibility for behavior are neither necessary nor sufficient for the emergence of guilt nor shame. Such understandings do, however, contribute to the nature of shame and guilt experiences as well as the conditions under which these emotions can occur. Principle 7: Socialization is crucial to the development of shame and guilt. Socialization experiences play a major role in the development of shame and guilt. Socialization causes the child to care about the opinions of others, making the child want to follow social standards. It teaches the child about rules and standards for behavior, and endows particular standards with significance. All of these are central to the development of shame and guilt.
Reviews the major controversy concerning psychobiological universality of differential emotion patterning vs cultural relativity of emotional experience. Data from a series of cross-cultural questionnaire studies in 37 countries on 5 continents are reported and used to evaluate the respective claims of the proponents in the debate. Results show highly significant main effects and strong effect sizes for the response differences across 7 major emotions (joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame, and guilt). Profiles of cross-culturally stable differences among the emotions with respect to subjective feeling, physiological symptoms, and expressive behavior are also reported. The empirical evidence is interpreted as supporting theories that postulate both a high degree of universality of differential emotion patterning and important cultural differences in emotion elicitation, regulation, symbolic representation, and social sharing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
What Are Self-conscious Emotions?Some General Development ConsiderationsSelf-conscious Emotions Are Interpersonal, TooShame and GuiltEmbarrassmentPrideReferences