The Conscience as a Regulatory Function: Empathy, Shame, Pride, Guilt, and Moral Orientation in Delinquent Adolescents.Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2016 May; 60(6):675-93.IJ
This study examines an emotion-based theory of the conscience, which provides forensic practitioners tools for assessing the state of the conscience. It is operationalized as an emotion-regulating function, making use of empathy, self-conscious emotions, such as shame, pride or guilt, and moral judgment. This was put to test in a questionnaire survey with 59 delinquent and 275 non-delinquent juveniles. As was hypothesized, the functioning of the conscience of these groups differed, with offenders having lower levels of some aspects of empathic capacity, being less prone to experiencing shame and guilt, being more prone to experiencing pride, and being more punishment oriented than victim oriented. The research confirmed that operationalization of the conscience in terms of empathy, self-conscious emotions, and moral orientation is feasible.