Its Distinct Form and Appeasement Functions




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Copyright 1997 by the American Psychological Association Inc 0033 2909 97 53 00 Psychological Bulletin 1997 W 122 No 3 250 270 Embarrassment Its Distinct Form and Appeasement Functions Brenda N Buswell University of Wisconsin Madison Dacher Keltner University of California Berkeley The authors address 2 questions about embarrassment First Is embarrassment a distinct emotion The evidence indicates that the antecedents experience and display of embarrassment and to a limited extent its autonomic physiology are distinct from shame guilt and amusement and share the dynamic temporal characteristics of emotion Second What are the theoretical accounts of embarrassment Three accounts focus on the causes of embarrassment positing that it follows the loss of self esteem concern for others evaluations or absence of scripts to guide interactions A fourth account focuses on the effects of the remedial actions of embarrassment which correct preceding transgressions A fifth account focuses on the functional parallels between embarrassment and nonhuman appeasement The discussion focuses on unanswered questions about embarrassment Lewis Stanger Sullivan Barone 1991 or a more cognitively complex emotion e g Campos Barrett Lamb Goldsmith Stenberg 1983 Recently however research has begun to illuminate the defining characteristics and functions of the self conscious emotions which include embarrassment shame guilt and pride Edelmann 1987 1990 Keltner 1995 Lewis 1993 Miller 1992 1996 Miller Leary 1992 Miller Tangney 1994 Parrott Smith 1991 Tangney 1990 1991 1992 Tangney Fischer 3 995 The emergent study of the self conscious emotions raises two questions whose answers provide the framework of this article First Is embarrassment a distinct emotion To answer this question we present the logic that guides the determination of whether an emotion is distinct and then review the evidence relevant to whether the forms of embarrassment its antecedents appraisals experience nonverbal display and






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