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In the present study, we sought to examine guilt and shame in relation to an individual’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is an evaluative construct that is vital to one’s self-concept and plays an important role in an individual’s positive progress (Metalsky et al., 1993). In both social and personality psychology research, this construct is one of the most frequently measured (Gray-Little et al., 1997). Both guilt and shame are feelings evoked by distressing personal transgressions, oftentimes used interchangeably, as they both relate to one’s self-concept, aiding in self-regulation in service of social expectations (Gray-Little et al., 1997). Low self-esteem has been linked to shame proneness, and negative self evaluations (NSEs) (e.g. feeling bad about oneself) following public transgressions (Tangney & Dearing, 2002) Shame-prone individuals have shown similar characteristics to those who have low self-esteem and often engage in behaviors that seem problematic or maladaptive (Thomas & Warren-Findlow, 2020). Among college students in the United States, negative behaviors such as poor diet and sleep quality, low physical activity, and heavy substance abuse can contribute to risks such as development of chronic disease (Thomas & Warren-Findlow, 2020). The present study focuses specifically on college students experiencing these stressors which we believe have an impact on one’s self-esteem and will produce significant results in finding a relationship between low self-esteem and shame-proneness.


Dr. Raquel Lopez, Psychology

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psychology, self-esteem, college students

Self-esteem and feelings of guilt and shame in undergraduate college students

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