Shame vs. Guilt: Is there a difference?


In this article, I argue that guilt and shame are not distinctive emotions. Instead, guilt is best seen as a kind of shame. I present three reasons for this view: First, guilt cannot merely arise as a consequence of how we evaluate our behaviour, since how we act implicates the whole self. Second, guilt cannot be relieved by taking responsibility, apologising and making amends unless it is a kind of shame. Third, the empirical research that seems to show that ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ are distinct can be explained by re-interpreting the data.

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Derek R. Brookes
Australian National University (PhD)


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