Communications Paper on Shame and Guilt Culture Differences

Shame and Guilt Culture Differences

Shame and guilty are two words that are mostly used together and at times go hand in hand. Shame reflects what we feel about ourselves and guilty reflects an action, which might have been injurious to another party, and we hold that feeling in ourselves. Nevertheless, guilt and shame can be explained from both cultural and psychological perspective.

According to Rohan, Newman and Alaoui (2014), guilt and shame have ethical, religious, and anthropological meanings. For instance, the biblical story of creation and Sodom and Gomorrah actions shows that in Christianity, guilt and shame resulted from the act of Sodom and Gomorrah being guilty and shameful towards Gods. This led to the first transgression.

More so, the traditional believes of guilt and shame was caused by the relationships between human beings opposing the relationship with God that creates guilt and shame. Accordingly, linguistics associate guilt with interpersonal relation. For example, in Chinese it is related with the fear of meeting people and comes with reflection that people create when they harm others. Thus, shame is not the same thing as guilt (Ho, Fu & Ng, 2004).

Confucian and western perspectives of guilt, shame, and embarrassment are concealed from other emotions. More so, it is worth noting that when guilt is allied to modality, it becomes an imaginary auditory experience. The latter is derived from people’s conscience. Embarrassment and shame occur in social contexts but also happen when someone is alone just like how guilt and shame occur when someone is alone and thinking. Guilt and shame usually settle in people’s minds for long, but one can be cured to remove the negative thinking allied to guiltiness and shamefulness (Ho, Fu & Ng, 2004).

From the discussions above it can be noted that stress and guilty are based on psychology, religious, and linguistic perspectives. In addition, confusion linguistic links stress and guilt with facial expression or the interpersonal level. From the test, it can be concluded that Confucians view shame as pervasive and does not reflect genuine concern.

Various researchers have done studies to establish the various experiences and nature of shame. Based on the research, shame is more prevalent in collective cultures as compared to the individualistic cultures. Shame in California is associated with sub-ordinance events while in Bengkulu it is associated with guilt-like accounts when using research method of telling shame verbatim. Utilization of mapping techniques revealed that California experiences some guiltiness.

Research on methodological relationship between shame, embarrassment, and research from Confucius cultures revealed that the emotions are qualitatively and have distinct attributes (Ho et al., 2004). It showed that involvement of others regarding extensity of these emotions are expressed by the individuals who are facing this problem. This analysis which is closed associated with emotional characteristics exposes various features of an individual that show the duality of self

Most significantly, a study conducted by Rohan et al. (2014) established the example and meaning of shame and guilt in the cultural and religious’ perspective. The research found out that guilt and shame are normally psychological products inherent in the society. Therefore, the guiltiness and shame are evoked by the regression allied to moral codes of the society. Principally, the correlation of various generations is an important facet of moral code.

The study done by Rohan et al. (2014) and the current findings have some similarity. In both studies, stress and guilt have a psychological origination problem. More so, in both the emotions are founded of religious and moral perspectives. The difference between the two findings is that, shame and guilt are triggered by a person code of conduct whether alone or in social context from our current study. Rohan et al. (2014) study reveals that shame and guilt are brought by transgressions of traditional morals. Another variance is that intergenerational interactions tend to be very critical facets when it comes to moral codes. Accordingly, based on the present study, the moral codes emanate from the individual interpersonal alliance.




Ho, D. Y.-F., Fu, W., & Ng, S. M. (2004), Guilt, shame and embarrassment: revelations of face and self. Culture & Psychology, 10, 1, 64-84.

Rohan, J., Newman, S., & Alaoui, J. E. (2014). Cultural reflections on shame and guilt: an intergenerational dialogue. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 12, 448-453. Retrieved from