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The Positive Side of Shame

https://fs.blog/2020/01/positive-side-of-shame/

fs.blog

The Positive Side of Shame
Recently, shame has gotten a bad rap. It's been branded as toxic and destructive. But shame can be used as a tool to effect positive change. *** A computer science PhD candidate uncovers significant privacy-violating security flaws in large companies, then shares them with the media to attract negative coverage.

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Shame

Shame is a universal experience. Shame enforces adherence to beneficial social norms.

Shaming is a tool and can be used for good or evil. We should use it when the outcome has a greater benefit for society, and when formal means of punishment have been exhausted. Shaming should ultimately lead to reform and reintegration and act as a deterrent against bad behavior.

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Guilt vs shame

Guilt is a private feeling of regret about something you did, and the discomfort leads to self-regulation regardless of exposure.

Shaming is about the possibility of being exposed to an audience.

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Effective shaming

Shaming can give the weak greater power. It can be used as a tool to encourage structural changes of institutions, organizations, and powerful individuals by exposing a transgressor to public disapproval.

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Shaming must be relevant

The audience responsible for the shaming should be concerned with the transgression. The audience should be the victim. For instance, second-hand smoke impacts the health of non-smokers.

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Unfairness should be significant

There should be a big gap between the desired and actual behavior. The smaller the gap, the less effective the shaming will be. The degree of bad relative to the group matters. 

For instance, the worse the level of pollution for a corporation is, the more people will shame it.

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Formal punishment should be missing

Shaming is most effective when the only possible avenue for punishment would otherwise go ignored. This triggers our sense of fury at injustice.

If a nation commits major human rights abuses, it is difficult for another nation to use the law to punish them. Exposing and drawing attention to the violations may shame the nation into stopping.

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Subject to the same social norms

The transgressor should be sensitive and sympathetic to the source of shaming.

Shaming an organic grocery store for selling unethically produced meat would be far more effective than shaming a fast-food chain for the same thing.

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Trusted sources

The audience should trust the source of the shaming. The shaming should come from a reputable, trustworthy, non-hypocritical source, otherwise, the impact will be minimal.

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Shaming used sparingly

Shaming should be directed where possible benefits are greatest. We all have a limited amount of interest in shaming. It should be used only for the most severe transgressions; otherwise, people will become desensitized, and shaming will lose its effectiveness.

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Shaming with diligence

The threat of shaming can be more useful than the act itself to reform behavior. It may be helpful to implement regularly. For instance, an annual report on the companies guilty of the most pollution works better than a once-off.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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 ...

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.

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.

The positive impact of forgiveness

The positive impact of forgiveness

Forgiving someone can reduce our stress levels, risk of heart disease and mental illness. It can prevent cognitive decline in later life, help you earn more money, and be happier.

Forgiveness should be culturally appropriate

Individualists use forgiveness to relieve a burden and clear their conscience while collectivists use forgiveness to preserve social harmony, even if the individual still feels resentment towards their transgressor.

Western countries like the US or the UK tend to have more individualistic cultures, meaning personal gain is put before helping the wider group. In collectivistic cultures like Asia and Africa, the group is put first.

Two separate types of forgiveness

  • Decisional forgiveness is colder, cognitive, and analytical. The collectivist is concerned with what is the best thing for everyone else.
  • Emotional forgiveness is offered to satisfy an emotional need and is more common in individualistic people.

The separate types of forgiveness are sometimes used to explain the difference between collectivistic and individualistic approaches.

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Our reasons for lying

Where lying is concerned, we just can't seem to help ourselves. 

We lie for two reasons: behavioral conditioning and cognitive evolutionary biology.

Behavioral conditioning

Lying keeps us hooked because we enjoy the reward. The outcomes are unpredictable.
Lying is reinforced every time we get away with it. 

Cognitive evolutionary biology

Lying is a valuable tool in our survival kit. We can spare someone's feelings or build social standing. Lying can keep us out of trouble or even save our lives.

Practicing deception starts as early as six months of age such as fake crying or laughter. But people only start to get good at it after another four years where they learn to let go of the unbelievable lies and settle for what kind of lies work.