Shame and Guilt

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from Shame and Guilt (Emotions and Social Behavior)

“Shame and guilt are rich human emotions that serve important functions at both the individual and relationship levels.

On the one hand, as moral emotions, shame and guilt are among our most private, intimate experiences.

In the face of transgression or error, the self turns toward the self—evaluating and rendering judgment.

Thus, the experience of shame or guilt can guide our behavior and influence who we are in our own eyes.

On the other hand, shame and guilt are inextricably linked to the self in relationship with others.

These emotions develop from our earliest interpersonal experiences—in the family and in other key relationships.

And throughout the lifespan, these emotions exert a profound and continued influence on our behavior in interpersonal contexts.

Shame and guilt are thus both “self-conscious” and “moral” emotions: self-conscious in that they involve the self evaluating the self, and moral in that they presumably play a key role in fostering moral behavior.”

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