Chapter 12: Pride – A Positive Self-Conscious Emotion

Summary of Negative and Positive Self-Conscious Emotions

In the past two chapters we reviewed negative and positive self-conscious emotions. From a distinct and basic emotions perspective, shame, guilt and embarrassment represent separate categories of three emotions. Single-Emotion Theory views embarrassment and shame as different intensities of the same emotion. Similarly, basic emotion theory views authentic and hubristic pride as two separate emotions, although some evidence suggests hubristic pride may be a personality trait similar to narcissism. All self-conscious emotions are elicited by internal attributions for successes or failures. For shame, guilt, authentic pride, and hubristic pride, stability and globality attributions determine which emotion label we attach to our experience. Current work on the brain suggests that structures involved in theory of mind tasks are also activated for self-conscious emotions. More work is needed in the field of self-conscious emotions. In particular, further work should investigate the physiological changes associated with these emotions and create clearer delineations between shame/guilt and authentic/hubristic pride. Future directions might investigate whether people can experience guilt without committing a “bad act.” One example of this might be survivor’s guilt – when people feel guilty from surviving a tragedy or death experienced by a close other. In addition, work could consider whether vicarious embarrassment is an emotion – can we be embarrassed for others? Is vicarious embarrassment as intense as embarrassment caused by the self? Related to pride, Ekman (Ekman & Cordaro, 2011) suggests two additional basic emotions are Naches (Yiddish for vicarious pride) and Fiero (Italian for achieving a difficult challenge).

And remember, that when another person commits a moral violation, we make an external attribution, and experience disgust or anger toward that person. But, when we commit a moral violation, we make an internal attribution and experience shame or guilt.


When others commit a moral violation → DISGUST OR ANGER!

When we commit a moral violation → SHAME OR GUILT!


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