Shame and guilt are moral emotions that result from deviations from internalized standards. Both constructs differ with respect to their genesis, to the emotions accompanying them, and to their behavioral consequences. Shame is associated with a loss of self-respect, social withdrawal, anger, and aggression. Guilt, on the other hand, supports prosocial behavior and motivates compensation for the inflicted loss. Based on repeated interviews with 1,243 offenders from six prisons for young offenders, the study examined to what extent feelings of shame and guilt experienced during a prison term influenced recidivism after release. An event-history analysis indicated that feelings of guilt at the beginning of a prison term correlated with lower rates of recidivism, and feelings of shame correlated with higher rates. Results are discussed with regard to their implications for further research and the justice system.
Hosser, D., Windzio, M., & Greve, W. (2008). Guilt and shame as predictors of recidivism: A longitudinal study with young prisoners. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(1), 138-152.