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Shame and Guilt (Emotions & Social Behavior) Paperback – 4 Dec 2003
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"Among the human emotions, shame and guilt have been relatively neglected by psychologists and other behavioral scientists. Moreover, work on these topics has been hampered by fuzzy conceptualization, armchair theorizing, and inadequate reliance on empirical research. In one fell swoop, Tangney and Dearing have remedied this situation. Drawing upon a broad array of theory and research in social, personality, developmental, and clinical psychology (including the first author's 15-year program of research), Shame and Guilt is an outstanding work of scholarship, as meticulously researched as it is interesting and readable. It will become an instant classic in the literature on emotion."--Mark R. Leary, PhD, Wake Forest University
"This important and readable book represents the culmination of years of work by the world's foremost expert on shame and guilt. In clear, straightforward prose, it brings the reader through the tortured history of ideas on the topic, through the first author's definitive research program and the accumulated findings of many others, and provides a powerful understanding of how these affective experiences shape human life. Shame and guilt are superficially similar, but any reader of this book will quickly grasp how one of them is the 'evil twin' of the other and why they lead into such different directions. This is an indispensable book for anyone wanting an up-to-date overview of the very different natures of these influential emotions."--Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, author of "Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty" and "Meanings of Life."
"Shame and guilt are emotions that almost all experience, but upon which few wish to dwell. Tangney and Dearing provide an engaging, bold, and provocative analysis of differences between these emotions, and the correlates of being prone to each of them. Their analysis will be of interest and use to students, teachers, and therapists, among others. The proposed link between shame-proneness and aggression is especially intriguing."--C. Daniel Batson, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas
"This book provides a comprehensive yet comprehensible review of work on shame and guilt that stems from the author's extensive knowledge of the field. Because Tangney is a skilled scientist with an interest in applications of research, she provides insight into both the scientific process and the implications for therapy, moral development in childhood, and interpersonal relationships. I recommend the book for graduate students, scientists interested in emotion and moral development, practitioners concerned with issues of shame and guilt, and anyone who wants an authoritative overview of current knowledge in this area."--Nancy Eisenberg, PhD, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
About the Author
June Price Tangney, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California-Los Angeles, under the direction of Dr. Seymour Feshbach, after working with Dr. Joseph Masling as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Tangney serves on the editorial boards of several professional journals. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the John Templeton Foundation. Ronda L. Dearing, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Research Institute on Addictions in Buffalo, New York. She became involved in the study of shame and guilt during her graduate training in clinical psychology at George Mason University, while working as a research assistant with June Tangney. Prior to her training in psychology, Dr. Dearing worked as a medical technologist. Her doctoral dissertation focused on predictors of psychotherapy help-seeking in therapists-in-training. More recent interests include help-seeking in substance abuse, substance abuse treatment approaches, and the influence of shame-proneness on substance use.
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In this book Tangney and Dearing propose a definition of guilt close to ours, but define shame as a self-evaluative emotion in which one's total worth as a person is brought into question, whereas guilt deals with more specific behaviors. Thus for the authors, both shame and guilt are self-evaluative emotions. This definition suits their purposes because their evidence is in the form of self-description (attitude and personality surveys). Their conclusion is that shame is dysfunctional in the sense that individuals who tend to evaluate their behavior in terms of shame have a difficult time dealing with others and ameliorating their behavior, whereas those who evaluate themselves in terms of guilt are more likely to be able to correct the problem.
I think the authors' results are compatible with the more general use of the term "shame" in interpersonal interactions. The capacity for shame is both prosocial and individually welfare-enhancing (those without shame tend to be sociopaths), but the tendency to apply shame evaluations to oneself may be personally dysfunctional.
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