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The Differential Relationships of Shame–Proneness and Guilt–Proneness to Psychological and Somatization Symptoms

Historically, much attention has been focused on the role of guilt in psychopathology. However, recent theorists have posited that the association between guilt and psychopathology may be better accounted for by shame or by the overlapping features of guilt and shame. The current investigation assessed the relationships of shame–proneness versus guilt–proneness to psychological symptoms, somatization symptoms, attributional style, and concealment (n= 156). The shared variance between shame–proneness and guilt–proneness and the unique component of shame–proneness were related to both psychological and somatization symptoms, whereas the unique component of guilt–proneness was not related to these measures. Further, increased shame–proneness was associated with making depressogenic attributions, whereas guilt–proneness was not. Concealment was found to mediate the relationship between shame–proneness and psychological symptoms. These findings provide further evidence that the association between guilt and symptoms is accounted for by shame. Future research into concealment and other mechanisms by which shame influences symptoms is needed.