chapter  4
15 Pages

Driven by shame

How a negative emotion may lead to prosocial behaviour
WithAugusta Gaspar, Mariana Henriques

Shame is a social emotion, and by many researchers it is counted among moral emotions. It stems from the self-perception that one is viewed as unattractive by others and serves the adaptive role of warning individuals that they may be rejected or ostracised in social relationships. Shame has been postulated to motivate people to engage in socially valued behaviours that will protect or improve their social images and consequently grant them the acceptance of others and prevent loss of group membership. Psychology research on this emotion traditionally focused on the negative interpersonal and psychological consequences of shame, with studies showing how it could lead to transgression, hostility or reduced empathy. Recent research has shown, however, that this emotion may predict increased prosocial behaviour and that the extent to which shame will promote one type of behaviour or another is contingent upon individual differences that we discuss in this chapter.