The Self-conscious Emotions:
Shame, Guilt, Embarrassment
June Price Tangney
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
Publication of this Handbook is especially timely for the self-conscious emotions. The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in attention to these longneglected siblings of the basic emotions. In the span of little more than 10 years, researchers from a diversity of disciplines have developed new measurement methods to assess shame, guilt, embarrassment and pride. At the same time, theoretical perspectives on these emotions have become increasingly sophisticated (paralleling the study of emotions, in general). And these developments, together, have led to a remarkable body of rich empirical work where before there was so little. In this chapter, I attempt to summarize current perspectives and findings on the self-conscious emotions, highlighting key controversies facing researchers in this field.
Shame, guilt, embarrassment and pride are members of a family of “selfconscious emotions”. Each involves, as a central feature, some form of self-reflection and self-evaluation. This self-evaluation may be implicit or explicit, consciously experienced or silently transpiring below conscious awareness. But these emotions are fundamentally about the self. For example, when good things happen, we may feel a range of positive emotions—joy, happiness, satisfaction or contentment. But we feel pride in our own positive