Constructive and destructive aspects of shame and guilt.

  • Tangney J
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Discusses for whom, under what conditions, and in what form do the negative moral emotions of shame and guilt serve constructive as opposed to destructive functions. This chapter summarizes research indicating that shame and guilt are distinct affective experiences with very different implications for adjustment at both the individual and interpersonal level. Taken together, the author's research indicates that feelings of shame often give rise to a range of potentially destructive motivations, defenses, interpersonal behaviors, and psychological symptoms. In contrast, guilt appears to be the "quintessential" moral emotion serving numerous constructive, "relationship-enhancing functions" without many of the burdens and costs inherent in feelings of shame. It is stated that in a very real sense, negatively balanced "moral" emotions, such as shame and guilt, highlight the best and worst sides of human emotional experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (from the chapter)

Author-supplied keywords

  • emotional adjustment
  • guilt
  • morality
  • shame

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  • June Price Tangney

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