Title

Sex Differences in the Organization of Guilt and Shame

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Sex Roles

Volume

37

Issue

1-2

Publisher

Springer Verlag

Publication Date

1997

First Page

19

Last Page

44

DOI

10.1023/A:1025684502616

Abstract

Lewis [(1971) Shame in Guilt in Neurosis, New York: International Universities Press] argues that guilt and shame represent distinct modes of perceiving and experiencing information about the self that are congruent with gender-linked differences in socialization. We tested predictions from Lewis'' model that shame-proneness in adult White females (n = 102), but guilt-proneness in adult White males (n = 99), would account for a substantial proportion of the variance in measures assessing their characteristic use of defense mechanisms and endorsement of gender roles. Certain results confirmed Lewis'' broader claim that guilt for men, but shame for women, were predominant modes of organizing information about the self. Other results did not support certain specific predictions made by Lewis or they provided only equivocal support (e.g., in men, the joint positive relationship of guilt-proneness to communal orientations but its negative relationship to externalization). Similar discrepant findings emerged for females'' construal of guilt, which also related positively to internalization. Although shame-proneness did emerge as the principal emotion variable for females, it was linked to both internalization and externalization. Lewis'' model is reconsidered in light of recent empirical findings and the need to conduct more on-line investigations of transgression-emotion induction-emotion reduction cycles.

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