Guilty, But Not Ashamed: “True” Self-Conceptions Influence Affective Responses to Personal Shortcomings
Article first published online: 13 AUG 2013
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Volume 82, Issue 3, pages 213–224, June 2014
How to Cite
Vess, M., Schlegel, R. J., Hicks, J. A. and Arndt, J. (2014), Guilty, But Not Ashamed: “True” Self-Conceptions Influence Affective Responses to Personal Shortcomings. Journal of Personality, 82: 213–224. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12046
- Issue published online: 28 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 13 AUG 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 11 JUN 2013 06:12AM EST
The current research examined how true self-conceptions (who a person believes he or she truly is) influence negative self-relevant emotions in response to shortcomings. In Study 1 (N = 83), an Internet sample of adults completed a measure of authenticity, reflected on a shortcoming or positive life event, and completed state shame and guilt measures. In Study 2 (N = 49), undergraduates focused on true versus other determined self-attributes, received negative performance feedback, and completed state shame and guilt measures. In Study 3 (N = 138), undergraduates focused on self-determined versus other determined self-aspects, reflected on a shortcoming or neutral event, and completed state shame, guilt, and self-esteem measures. In Study 4 (N = 75), undergraduates thought about true self-attributes, an achievement, or an ordinary event; received positive or negative performance feedback; and completed state shame and guilt measures. In Study 1, differences in true self-expression positively predicted shame-free guilt (but not guilt-free shame) following reminders of a shortcoming. Studies 2–4 found that experimental activation of true self-conceptions increased shame-free guilt and generally decreased guilt-free shame in response to negative evaluative experiences. The findings offer novel insights into true self-conceptions by revealing their impact on negative self-conscious emotions.