Guilt-prone people are highly skilled at recognising other people's emotions

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Guilt-prone people are highly skilled at recognising other people's emotions

Post by Guest on Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:52 pm

It's not pleasant to feel perpetually that you're responsible for mishaps and screw-ups, but some people do. Psychologists recognise this as a distinct trait, which they call "guilt-proneness" and now they've discovered that it tends to go hand in hand with an enhanced ability to recognise other people's emotions, at least from their facial expressions.

For the new study published in Cognition and Emotion, Matt Treeby and his colleagues asked 363 people (mostly students; average age 27) to say how they'd feel in 11 hypothetical negative scenarios. For example, one involved making a big mistake on a work project. From the range of answers available, participants who said they'd think "I should have recognised the problem and done a better job" were considered to have shown evidence of guilt-proneness. Another answer participants could choose was "I would feel like I wanted to hide", and answers like this were taken as a sign of shame-proneness as opposed to guilt-proneness. Although guilt and shame sound similar, the latter is associated much more with uncomfortable thoughts about the self ("what does this misdemeanour say about me?") whereas guilt is much more focused on the act itself ("how could I have done that?"). Other response options signalled detachment or lack of concern: "Well, nobody is perfect".

Next, the participants completed an online test that involved looking at photographs of actors displaying different facial expressions of emotion with varying intensities. The participants' challenge was to label each emotion correctly as either happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, anger or shame.

The key finding was that guilt proneness tended to correlate with performance on the emotion-recognition test. Guilt-prone people performed better overall across the different emotions, and they also showed extra sensitivity to recognising low intensity emotions. It's not clear from this research whether being sensitive to other people's emotions contributes to making someone guilt prone, or if instead being guilt-prone leads one to pay more attention to people's emotions, and get more practice at recognising them. Either way, it's an intriguing finding that complements past research showing that guilt-prone people tend to report better than usual psychological adjustment, to avoid anti-social behaviour and have good relationship skills.


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Re: Guilt-prone people are highly skilled at recognising other people's emotions

Post by eddie on Sat Oct 17, 2015 6:13 pm

I don't understand guilt.

If you feel guilty about something then you obviously know that what you did was wrong and you put it right.

I don't tend to feel guilty, ever, yet I am pretty darned brilliant at reading people's expressions, moods and fears within a short space of knowing them.

”It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” ~ Andre Gide
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