A multidimensional approach to the relationship between individualism-collectivism and guilt and shame.

Isaac F. Young, Pooya Razavi, Taya R. Cohen, Qian Yang, Miquel Alabèrnia-Segura, Daniel Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Guilt and shame proneness are commonly thought to be associated with culture, yet research on this relationship is fragmented and often inconsistent. In a review of the existing social scientific literature, we demonstrate that no consistent relationship between guilt and shame, on the one hand, and individualism and collectivism, on the other, has yet been established. To move this research area forward, we apply a new 2-dimensional, quaternary perspective to both guilt/shame and cultural orientation. Specifically, both evaluative and behavioral dimensions of guilt and shame are considered using the Guilt and Shame Proneness Scale (GASP; Cohen, Wolf, Panter, & Insko, 2011), as well as the degree of hierarchy (i.e., horizontality-verticality) in individuals’ cultural orientation (Triandis & Gelfand, 1998). A study of individuals from 5 countries (United States, India, China, Iran, and Spain; total N = 1,466) confirmed our hypotheses that individuals culturally socialized to be more interpersonally oriented (i.e., horizontal collectivism) are more motivated to engage in reparative action following transgressions, whereas those culturally socialized to be more attuned to power, status, and competition (i.e., vertical individualism) are more likely to withdraw from threatening interpersonal situations, and that these relationships are stronger than corresponding relationships with guilt- and shame-related evaluations. In addition to supporting these hypotheses, our data also provide the first cross-cultural evidence regarding the invariance of the GASP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-122
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • collectivism
  • culture
  • guilt
  • individualism
  • shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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