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When Guilt Leads to Other Orientation and Shame Leads to Egocentric Self-Focus: Effects of Differential Priming of Negative Affects on Perspective Taking

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Previous researchers have pointed out that different negative affects with the same degree of negative valence may have distinct, yet predictable, influences on information processing. Based upon the perspective of “affect-as-information” and the mood repair hypothesis, we examined differences in individuals' perspective taking arising when they felt either guilt or shame. Undergraduates (N = 114) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 affect-inducing conditions. After receiving affect manipulation, they were asked to engage in a perspective-taking task and to make judgments about how other people thought. Compared with participants in a neutral mood, participants experiencing guilt showed better perspective taking, and participants experiencing shame showed worse perspective taking. In general, the results suggest that an individual's inclination to take other persons' perspectives into consideration has a differential effect on mood repair depending on whether behavior is motivated by shame or guilt.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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