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The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-underpinnings-and-impacts-of-shame/

scientificamerican.com

The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.

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Shame Affects Our Mental Health

Shame Affects Our Mental Health

Shame is that uncomfortable sensation we feel in our stomach when we realize our irrationality and cannot run away from the judging eye of other people. It usually happens when we violate the social norms that we and the community we live in, value.

Shame is a universal emotion, its affect on mental health and behaviour are not fully known, and new studies point out that it has a strong link with depression.

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Women And Children Feel Shame More Intensely

  • Women and adolescents are quick to feel the negative effects of shame, and dive into low self-esteem and depression at a much faster rate than men.
  • Young people have a stronger ‘pull’ towards any kind of emotion, including shame, which is the reason for them being susceptible to severe depression.
  • The propensity of shame decreases as we grow older, but elders again start to feel ashamed just as a young person, as they get self-conscious of their actions, appearance and bodily decline.

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Shame And Guilt

  • Guilt is related to shame but is easier to rectify, as we focus our attention on the other person and apologize, accepting responsibility.
  • Shame is an inward emotion that makes us view our entire self in a bad light, with us getting punished by our conscience.
  • Guilt is actually a positive emotion, showing our empathy and encouraging us to reverse the harm that we may have done.

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Social ambiguity

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Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everythin...

The victimhood mindset

Researchers found the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions:

  • Always seeking recognition for one's victimhood: Those who score high on this dimension have a constant need to have their suffering acknowledged. It is also normal for victims to want the perpetrators to take responsibility for their wrongdoing.
  • Moral elitism: Those who score high on this dimension perceive themselves as having perfect morality while viewing everyone else as immoral. They view themselves as persecuted, vulnerable and morally superior.
  • Lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others: People who score high on this dimension are so preoccupied with their own victimhood that they are unaware of the pain and suffering of others.
  • Frequently thinking of past victimization: Those scoring high on this dimension continuously think about their interpersonal offences and their causes and consequences rather than about possible solutions.

Mindset and self-image in interpersonal conflicts

In interpersonal conflict, all parties are motivated to maintain a positive moral self-image. However, different parties are likely to create very different subjective realities. Offenders tend to downplay the severity of the transgression, and victims tend to perceive the offenders' motivations as immoral.

The mindset one develops - as a victim or a perpetrator - affects the way the situation is perceived and remembered.

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A Good Sense Of Humor

A Good Sense Of Humor
  • Humor has many practical uses, like diffusing a difficult situation, masking one’s nervousness, coping with failure and softening the criticism doled out to someone. 
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The Perfect Formula Of Funny

According to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, humor is derived from a sudden unmatching or unexpected outcome of an event, which had in our minds a specific expectation. This causes a mild ‘violation’ in our minds, which creates the humor.

Non-Words

In a series of experiments, it was found that the greater the ‘violation of the expected outcome’ the greater the humor feels. It also found that certain non-words, which are a combination of letter strings (like digifin, or artorts) but have no dictionary meaning, are the most consistent in their funniness rating.


Non-words with low entropy(the extent of them being unexpected) seem to offer more surprise, and therefore, get a higher humor rating.

Moving Together In Sync

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  • The synchronicity that is created while moving together in a simultaneous and coordinated manner results in strong social bonding, and well-being, according to new research.
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Spontaneous Synchronicity

We tend to sync ourselves with others without even realizing it. People wave or clap at the same time in concerts, rocking in sync. A study showed that if two people are in a rocking chair, they will automatically start rocking it in sync with each other.

This silent conversation of movement results in a special bonding and closeness towards each other. This results in people liking each other, being generous and cooperative towards each other, reducing racial or economical bias. This behaviour is even seen in small children.

Dancing Together Since Ancient Times

Early humans devised ways to be and stay together using the same techniques, albeit unconsciously.

Voices and body movements synced together during traditional folk dances in various cultures helped people bond together.