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Dev Psychol. 1999 Mar;35(2):347-57.

Guilt, shame, and symptoms in children.

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Department of Psychology, Utah State University, Logan 84322-2810, USA.


The authors asked whether evidence could be found for adaptive or maladaptive aspects of guilt and shame in 5-12-year-old children (44 boys, 42 girls). Children completed semiprojective and scenario-based measures thought to assess shame, guilt, or both. Their parents (N = 83) completed the Child Behavior Checklist to assess child symptoms. Shame and projective guilt were related to symptoms; they also were associated with self-blame and attempts to minimize painful feelings. Scenario-based guilt was related to fewer symptoms in boys but to greater symptoms in girls. This measure of guilt reflected concerns with adhering to standards, expressing empathy, and taking appropriate responsibility. Discussion focuses on possible origins of differential symptom-emotion links in boys and girls as well as measurement implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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