Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


I feel guilty, but we feel shame: Self-construal differences in reactions to transgressions


Psychology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


Prevailing models of guilt (vs. shame) characterize these emotions as resulting from a situational/behavioral (vs. dispositional) focus and negative personal (vs. social) evaluations of ones transgressions, respectively (Tangney, Stuewig & Mashek, 2007). Given cultural differences in self-construals (Markus & Kitayama, 1991), and related work on attribution (Kuhnen et al., 2013) and attitudinal vs. normative bases for behavior (Ybarra & Trafimow, 1998), we conducted two studies to examine whether independent (vs. interdependent) self-construals elicit stronger guilt (vs. shame) responses after transgressing. Using conventional methods, self-construals were measured (Study 1) and manipulated (Study 2). Guilt and shame were assessed via scenarios where the participant imagined harming a close other or group (relational/collective transgression) or themselves (intrapersonal transgression). Across both studies, independent self-construals were associated with more guilt and less shame for interpersonal scenarios, whereas interdependent self-construals were associated with more shame for both interpersonal and intrapersonal transgressions.

Conference Name

15th Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference

Conference Location

Austin, TX

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