Eliciting Guilty Feeling: A preliminary Study Differentiating Deontological and Altruistic Guilt

Basile B., Mancini F. (2011). Eliciting Guilty Feelings: A Preliminary Study Differentiating Deontological and Altruistic Guilt. Psychology. 2 (2), pp. 98-102.


Guilt has been identified as both an intrapsychic and an interpersonal emotion. The current study presents evidence of the existence of two senses of guilt, deontological and altruistic guilt, induced through different experimental paradigms. Deontological guilt evolves from having slighted moral authority or norms, while altruistic guilt arises from selfish behavior and the distress of others. We hypothesize that specific stimuli would evoke, separately, deontological guilt and altruistic/interpersonal guilt feelings.
Two different procedures were used to test our hypothesis, adding two emotions as control conditions (i.e. anger and sadness). Results clearly indicate that two different guilt emotions can be evoked separately, by appropriate stimulation. Findings and possible clinical implications are discussed.

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