American International Journal of Social Science

ISSN 2325-4149(Print), ISSN 2325-4165(Online) DIO: 10.30845/aijss

The Primacy of the Self in Shame: Can Shame be Benevolent?
Nadjet Aknouche, Noraini M. Noor

Mainstream psychology views shame as a unitary construct that is conclusively pathogenic. In the present research a tentative theoretical framework that encompasses adaptive and maladaptive forms of shame based on the interface between shame and different forms of self-esteem was developed. A qualitative study was conducted to investigate shame-inducing situations in the Malay context and the role of different self-conceptions in steering multiple forms of shame and their corresponding behavioural outcomes. The results indicated that though shame was engendered by a broad range of situations, the most common situational determinant of shame was negative evaluation. An unexpected inducer of shame that appeared in the analysis reflected a generalised state of shame. Coding analysis yielded to a number of self-conceptions. An adaptive form of shame was evoked as a result of private feelings of self-discrepancy. Maladaptive forms of shame were elicited as a result of feeling persistently deficient, a concern with others evaluation of the self, and an adopted self (rigid and immune). Behavioural outcomes varied by virtue of different self-conceptions from anticipatory to reactive on the one hand and from genuinely (e.g., self-improvement) to maliciously motivated (e.g., self-protection, and self-enhancement) on the other. Discussion focused on interpreting the findings in light of self-discrepancy theories and the cultural selfperspective.

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