Shame-prone people are more likely to punish themselves: A test of the reputation-maintenance explanation for self-punishment

Hiroki Tanaka, Ayano Yagi, Asuka Komiya, Nobuhiro Mifune, Yohsuke Ohtsubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent experimental studies have accumulated evidence about self-punishment. In accordance with the evolutionary perspective that shame has a reputation-maintenance function, we speculated that shame would promote self-punishment. Accordingly, we tested whether proneness to shame would predict self-punishment. In the first phase of the experiment, 98 undergraduates completed the Test of Self-Conscious Affect (TOSCA), a standard measure of proneness to shame and guilt. About 2 months later, 50 of the original participants took part in a self-punishment experiment, in which they all unintentionally made an unfair resource allocation, and then had the opportunity to inflict self-punishment by abandoning some of the money they had allocated to themselves. The amount of money the participants relinquished was significantly correlated with their shame-proneness. The intensity of posttransgression shame mediated the effect of shame-proneness on self-punishment. These results provide support for the evolutionary theorization of shame as a reputation-maintenance emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Guilt
  • Self-punishment
  • Shame
  • Test of self-conscious affect (TOSCA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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