What is it about?

Self-report measures of shame- and guilt-proneness do not assess unacknowledged or hidden shame. Among individuals who score low, some are really low in shame and some defensively deny it. Measure scores alone cannot distinguish between them and should not be taken at face value. We discuss possible consequences of ignoring hidden shame and offer suggestions for moving beyond the limits of self-report measures.

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Why is it important?

We propose a variation of a word-association test based on commonly used self-report measures and examine the possibility of obtaining more information from self-report measures if one examines more than a simple shame score. Defensive processes could impact the variability of answers related to shame, the time needed to respond to shame-related items, and sensitivity to the increased intensity of shame-inducing situations. Hence, examining the pattern of responses, in addition to a simple shame score, could help in identifying individuals whose self-reported low shame score hides a large portion of hidden shame.

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This page is a summary of: Recognizing the role of defensive processes in empirical assessment of shame., Psychoanalytic Psychology, October 2020, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pap0000306.
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