Behavioral Sciences, Social Psychology; guilt; shame; emotion; functionalist perspective; TOSCA
Within the field of guilt and shame, two competing perspectives have been advanced. The first, the inherent adaptivity perspective, has been primarily advanced by Tangney and colleagues. This position advocates that guilt is an inherently adaptive emotion and shame is an inherently maladaptive emotion; thus, those interested in moral character development and psychopathology should work to increase an individual’s guilt-proneness and decrease an individual’s shame-proneness. The functionalist perspective, in contrast, has advocated that both guilt and shame can serve a person adaptively and maladaptively—depending on the situational appropriateness, duration, intensity, and so forth. This paper reviews the research conducted supporting both positions, critiques some issues with the most widely used guilt- and shame-proneness measure in the inherent adaptivity research (the TOSCA), and concludes that the functionalist perspective is more broad in scope and fits the existing research better.