The Influence of Negative Feedback and Social Rank on Feelings of Shame and Guilt: A Vignette Study in 8- to 13-Year-Old Non-Clinical Children

Eline Hendriks*, Peter Muris, Cor Meesters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This experimental study examined the role of negative feedback and social rank in the experience of self-conscious emotions, shame and guilt, in typically developing children aged 8 to 13 years. Participants were tested by means of a vignette paradigm in which feedback and social rank were systematically manipulated and levels of shame and guilt were assessed after listening to each of the vignettes. In addition, children completed a set of questionnaires for measuring individual differences in shame and guilt proneness, social comparison, submissive behavior, and external shame. The results showed that children presented with negative feedback reported higher ratings of shame and guilt than when presented with positive feedback, implying that the provision of negative feedback has a significant impact on children's experience of self-conscious emotions. Social rank had less effect on children's report of these self-conscious emotions. Furthermore, the individual difference variables of guilt proneness, and to a lesser extent shame proneness and submissive behavior, appeared to be positively related to self-conscious emotions as reported during the vignette task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-468
Number of pages11
JournalChild Psychiatry & Human Development
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Self-conscious emotions
  • Shame and guilt
  • Negative feedback
  • Social rank
  • Children

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