Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dissertation on shame. Chapter 8.0 Shame as a moral emotion

8.0 Shame as a moral emotion

Ausubel (1955) argues that shame may be defined as an individual’s unpleasant emotional reaction to an actual or presumed negative judgement of himself by others resulting in self-depreciation vis-à-vis the group. He says that typical examples of non-moral shame are embarrassment over committing a breach of propriety or in having one’s bodily intimacy exposed to public scrutiny, and loss of face resulting from the exposure of ignorance or incompetence. Moral shame, on the other hand, is a reaction to the negative moral judgements of others. Moral shame can be divided into two categories – internalized and non-internalized, i.e. whether the moral values are accepted by the individual or not. When a child has learned and internalized that telling a lie is wrong, then the moral shame that occurs is an internalized shame, and there does not have to be a witness to the lie for the child to feel shame. When a child is caught in a lie by a witness, but does not feel that telling a lie is wrong, then the reaction is non-internalized shame, because the moral value is not internalized. This form of shame is connected to being caught in the act by others who condemn the action as wrong. 
Kaare T. Pettersen

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