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A Comparison of Personal Attribute and Scenario Based Shame Measures




Rousseau, Glenna

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Shame has become an increasingly important topic in the study of emotion and psychopathology; however, the best way to measure it remains unclear. Three current, prominent shame measures include the Experience of Shame Scale (ESS), Internalized Shame Scale (ISS), and Test of Self-Conscious Affect (TOSCA). The former two we categorize as personal attribute measures, which assess shame via global negative self-statements. We refer to the latter as a scenario-based measure because participants rate the likelihood of various responses to specific situations. Participants (N=205) completed these three shame measures, measures of guilt and anger, and of mood, anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Convergent validity was demonstrated as all three shame measures were significantly correlated, with the two personal attribute measures more closely associated with each other than with TOSCA Shame. Divergent validity was not as clearly supported. Several shame scales were more closely associated with guilt and anger scales than with other shame measures. Measurement type (personal attribute, scenario-based) played a larger role in the size of the correlations than did the emotion being measured. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the ISS was the only emotion measure to independently account for a significant portion of the variance of all three measures of psychopathology: mood, anxiety, and PTSD scores. Additionally, a series of confirmatory factor analyses failed to find sufficient model fit for the shame measure data. Therefore, shame as a construct is not completely solidified or measured in a straightforward manner.