The role of public exposure in moral and nonmoral shame and guilt.J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Jul; 83(1):138-59.JP
Although scholarly traditions assume that shame results more from the public exposure of a transgression or incompetence than guilt does, this distinction has little empirical support. Four studies, using either undergraduate participants' responses to hypothetical scenarios, their remembered experiences, or the coding of literary passages, reexamined this issue. Supporting traditional claims, public exposure of both moral (transgressions) and nonmoral (incompetence) experiences was associated more with shame than with guilt. Shame was also more strongly linked with nonmoral experiences of inferiority, suggesting 2 core features of shame: its links with public exposure and with negative self-evaluation. The distinctive features of guilt included remorse, self-blame, and the private feelings associated with a troubled conscience.