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Transferred Shame in the Cultures of Interdependent-Self and Independent Self

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The construal of the self is related to individuals' cognition, emotion and behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate shame in the context of interdependent-self and independent-self culture. 163 Chinese and 196 American college undergraduates completed a questionnaire about their reaction to 3 different scenarios about shameful events involving 5 different persons including self, mother, boy/girl friend, best friend and classmate. The participants reported the intensity of shame they felt in each of the situation and how close they were related to other people in the scenarios. The results demonstrated that there is a significant difference between Chinese and American participants on the levels of shame across all the scenarios, as well as for the persons involved in the scenario. It was also found that the intensity of shame was reduced as the relationship between the participants and the persons involved in the shameful events becomes remote in social distance. A significant correlation was found between closeness of relationship and intensity of shame felt. Implications for understanding cultural differences to emotions and future studies are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Humans Services, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0002, USA; 2: Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, P. R. China


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