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Psychol Bull. 1994 Mar;115(2):243-67.

Guilt: an interpersonal approach.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.

Abstract

Multiple sets of empirical research findings on guilt are reviewed to evaluate the view that guilt should be understood as an essentially social phenomenon that happens between people as much as it happens inside them. Guilt appears to arise from interpersonal transactions (including transgressions and positive inequities) and to vary significantly with the interpersonal context. In particular, guilt patterns appear to be strongest, most common, and most consistent in the context of communal relationships, which are characterized by expectations of mutual concern. Guilt serves various relationship-enhancing functions, including motivating people to treat partners well and avoid transgressions, minimizing inequities and enabling less powerful partners to get their way, and redistributing emotional distress.

PMID:
8165271
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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