Shame: A self-determination theory perspective

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McLachlan, Sarah
Keatley, David
Stiff, Chris
Hagger, Martin
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Jackson, RG
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2010
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Abstract

Shame has been identified as an intense unpleasant emotion (Wicker, Payne, & Morgan, 1973) with potentially deleterious effects on motivation and goal-striving (Fischer & Tangney, 1995). This chapter aims to explore the utility of self-determination theory (SDT) in understanding the experience of shame and the effects of being motivated by shame avoidance. Key constructs and mechanisms from SDT that explain the adaptive and maladaptive effects of shame experience and shame avoidance on behaviour will be identified and discussed. Specifically, introjected regulation, one of six regulatory styles specified by SDT, is particularly pertinent to well-documented associations between shame, maladaptive coping, and avoidant behavioural tendencies (e.g., Tangney, Fischer, Flicker, & Barlow, 1996). Introjected regulation is considered a psychological mediator characterised by avoidance of thoughts of shameful experiences or behaviours that could result in shameful emotional reactions in the future. The value of SDT in explaining and evaluating behavioural consequences of shame will be discussed using applied examples from educational, health, and resource conservation research. As the regulatory styles proposed by SDT have differing patterns of associations with psychological well-being, behavioural quality, and persistence, the theory can offer both an account of the consequences of shame and methods through which to reduce maladaptive reactions to this emotion. Ideas for further research approaching shame from an SDT perspective will be proposed, including an examination of whether inducing particular motivational orientations could serve as a buffer against the maladaptive effects of shame.

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Psychology of Neuroticism and Shame
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Psychology not elsewhere classified
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