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The Role of Shame and Guilt in the Intergenerational Transmission of Abusiveness

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Shame-proneness has been found to be related to anger arousal and a tendency to externalize attributions for one's own behavior, both common features of men who assault their wives. The present study examined a potential origin of a shame-prone style by analysing reports of shaming experiences by ones' parents as reported by a population of assaultive males. Significant relationships were found for recollections of shaming actions by parents on adult anger, abusiveness (as reported by the men's wives), and a constellation of personality variables related to abusiveness in prior research. These associations maintained even after corrections were made for response sets such as social desirability. These shaming actions were largely comprised of recollections of parental punishment that were public, random, or global. The role of shame experiences in disturbances of self-identity and rage is discussed.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia

Publication date: January 1, 1995

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