Cultural variations in shame’s responses: a dynamic perspective

S. Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The diverse literature on shame has led to disparate and often contradictory conclusions regarding the emotion’s nature and consequences. The article proposes a motivational theory of shame that accounts for these discrepant findings. The first part of the article uses the concept of active avoidance to outline a dynamic motivational perspective in which shame is based initially in behavioral inhibition that then incorporates subsequent behavioral activation. The motivational shift is guided by shame’s relational phenomenology and the normative beliefs associated with shame. In the second part, the motivational perspective is used to account for variations in shame’s consequences. Externalizing and restorative tendencies of shame are culturally variable and due to differences in behavioral activation associated with the emotion. However, withdrawal tendencies occur across cultural contexts because of shame’s basis in inhibition. Issues in conducting cross-cultural studies on emotion and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-403
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2014


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