Driven by shame: how a negative emotion may lead to prosocial behaviour

Augusta Gaspar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Shame is a social emotion, and by many researchers it is counted among moral emotions. It stems from the self-perception that one is viewed as unattractive by others and serves the adaptive role of warning individuals that they may be rejected or ostracised in social relationships. Shame has been postulated to motivate people to engage in socially valued behaviours that will protect or improve their social images and consequently grant them the acceptance of others and prevent loss of group membership. Psychology research on this emotion traditionally focused on the negative interpersonal and psychological consequences of shame, with studies showing how it could lead to transgression, hostility or reduced empathy. Recent research has shown, however, that this emotion may predict increased prosocial behaviour and that the extent to which shame will promote one type of behaviour or another is contingent upon individual differences that we discuss in this chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew interdisciplinary landscapes in morality and emotion
EditorsSara Graça da Silva
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781351387330
ISBN (Print)9781138500594
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Shame
  • Social Emotions
  • Prosocial Behavior
  • Guilt


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