University of Twente Student Theses


Approach and Avoidance Motivations in Vicarious and Individual Shame

Hildebrandt, L.K. (2013) Approach and Avoidance Motivations in Vicarious and Individual Shame.

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Abstract:Shame can be a very painful, but usually also a privately experienced emotion. Recently, a rather social, vicarious version has gained popularity in both research and everyday language, which is elicited by witnessing someone else transgressing a norm. Individual shame is related to a withdrawal motivation, but the motivational consequences of vicarious shame are not so clear. Interestingly, no research so far has accounted for the different social contexts in which vicarious shame occurs. The aim of this master thesis was to investigate differences in approach and avoidance motivations related to vicarious and individual shame, accounting for the fact that either oneself or another person is responsible for the transgression. For this aim, scenarios that induced either one of these two emotions or one of two control emotions (vicarious and individual pride) were used, which were followed by questionnaire measures aimed at measuring different aspects of approach and avoidance. The results of this study confirm that individually ashamed participants would want to avoid any subsequent encounter with witnesses of their transgression, while vicariously ashamed participants showed a high approach motivation. This difference was found to be mediated by intensity of shame experienced. When this encounter could not be avoided, individually ashamed participants would stay close to their in-group, possibly hoping for comfort, whereas vicariously ashamed participants avoided the transgressor and approached the judging audience, likely to shift the attention to other, more positive aspects of their selves.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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