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Gender differences in the attribution of shame and guilt

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr. G. Kruger en_US
dc.contributor.author Brophy, Mark
dc.date.accessioned 2012-03-26T07:03:58Z
dc.date.available 2012-03-26T07:03:58Z
dc.date.issued 2012-03-26
dc.date.submitted 2009
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4562
dc.description M.A. en_US
dc.description.abstract Shame and guilt are two terms which have been used synonymously in the psychological literature for many decades. It has only recently, however, been realized that there are fundamental differences in not only the experience, but also the elicitation of these two self-conscious emotions. Studies of the elicitation and experience of not only shame and guilt, but other self-conscious emotions too, represent a relatively new domain in psychology. The study of self-conscious emotions is thus fertile ground for further research. Tracy and Robins are two of the first researchers to present a comprehensive causal theory of self-conscious emotions. Their theory utilizes research from the field of cognition. Causal attributions are those aspects of cognition whereby an individual will explain the cause of an event or situation in terms of either dispositional or situational factors. It is hypothesized then that the attribution of either the disposition or the situation will result in either shame or guilt respectively. This study has utilized Tracy and Robins’ (2004) causal theory of self-conscious emotions as the foundation to investigate which casual attributions are utilized by males and females in the experience of shame and guilt. Tracy and Robins do not distinguish between the attributions used by males and females despite literature indicating gender differences in self-conscious emotions and causal attributional styles. This study involved 525 first year students from the University of Johannesburg. The instruments used for this study include the Test of Self-Conscious Affect and the Multidimensional Multiattributional Causality Scale. Moderated hierarchical multiple regression was used to investigate the moderating effect of gender on the attribution of shame and guilt. For shame the study found that as expected, ability was positively related to shame. Unexpected however, was that effort, luck, and context were also positively related to shame. Save for luck, in which males and females showed similar levels of intensity for high levels of luck, females experienced shame with greater intensity than males in terms of ability, effort, and context attributional styles. For guilt the study found that as expected, effort was positively related to guilt. For effort, females experienced more guilt than males do. Unexpectedly, however, was the finding that (for both genders) ability was positively related to guilt with females experiencing guilt with greater intensity than males. Also unexpected was the finding that for luck and context, only males experienced more guilt as luck and context were attributed as the cause of an event (females, as expected, experienced less guilt). It is recommended that future studies: Use a random sample to ensure the results can be generalized onto other populations; Create a sample where there are equal numbers of male and female participants to allow for accurate comparisons; Capture the cultural affiliation of the participant; Consider using samples across different age-groups; Use open-ended questions with the TOSCA to assess the healthy components of guilt; Standardize terms and phrases of the MMCS so that it is applicable to a South African context. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Shame en_US
dc.subject Guilt en_US
dc.subject Men en_US
dc.subject Women en_US
dc.title Gender differences in the attribution of shame and guilt en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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