Responses to collective expressions of guilt vs. shame

Caroline Kamau, Roger Giner-Sorolla, Sven Zebel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Two between-subjects experiments were conducted to explore Kenyans? and Britons? evaluations of hypothetical emotive statements expressed by Britain for colonialism. In study 1, emotion (guilt vs. shame) and identity salience (salient vs. not salient) were manipulated and 82 Kenyans took part. Emotion had a significant (ptextbackslashensuremathtextless.05) main effect on perceived emotional suffering, responsibility taking and closeness between Britain and Kenya, such that shame produced higher values than guilt. Identity salience and emotion did not have significant interaction effects on those variables. Study 2 was conducted in Britain using 62 British participants and there were three emotion conditions (guilt, shame and pride). Emotion had a significant (ptextbackslashensuremathtextless.05) effect on Britain?s perceived emotional suffering, the expectation of forgiveness of Britain by ex-colonies, and closeness between Britain and ex-colonies. Shame produced higher values than guilt, which produced higher values than pride. Study 1 and 2 results suggest that, compared to guilt, shame may be the most reconciliatory emotion for groups to express and that this may be culturally universal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication19th International Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP), 7th to 11th July 2008, Bremen, Germany
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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