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Span J Psychol. 2008 May;11(1):159-71.

Both Freud and Hoffman are right: Anxious-aggressive and empathic dimensions of guilt.

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Departamento de Procesos Psicológicos Básicos, Universidad del País Vasco, San Sebastián, Spain.


The purpose of the study was to confirm a model which proposed two basic dimensions in the subjective experience of guilt, one anxious-aggressive and the other empathic, as well as another dimension associated but not intrinsic to it, namely, the associated negative emotions dimension. Participants were 360 adolescents, young adults and adults of both sexes. They were asked to relate one of the situations that most frequently caused them to experience feelings of guilt and to specify its intensity and that of 9 other emotions that they may have experienced, to a greater or lesser extent, at the same time on a 7-point scale. The proposed model was shown to adequately fit the data and to be better than other alternative nested models. This result supports the views of both Freud and Hoffman regarding the nature of guilt, contradictory only at a first glance.

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