The roles of empathy, shame, and guilt in violence decision-making
University of Cambridge
Institute of Criminology
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Trivedi-Bateman, N. (2015). The roles of empathy, shame, and guilt in violence decision-making (doctoral thesis).
The roles of shame and guilt, and their relationships to empathy, have not been modelled adequately as key factors in moral decision-making in the study of violence. This research will test the different roles of empathy, shame, and guilt in violence decision-making using a Situational Action Theory perspective. Qualitative in-depth interviews were carried out with a violent offender subsample taken from the longitudinal Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+) in order to explore the role of moral emotion in specific real-life violent events. In addition, quantitative questionnaire indices enable comparison of the violent offender subsample with the remaining PADS+ study sample. Persistent offenders report significantly lower levels of empathy, shame and guilt on the quantitative indices, and weak empathy, shame, and guilt in their detailed recollections of specific acts of violence, e.g., “there’s not much guilt involved in the whole situation to be honest” (Sam, interview 39). The primary conclusion is that individuals with weak empathy, shame, and guilt are more likely to commit acts of violence. These study findings give insight into the real world, situational application of empathy, shame, and guilt, and provide strong support for the role of weak morality in violence decision-making.
Moral emotions, Shame, Guilt, Empathy, Morality, Violence, Longitudinal
PhD funded by ESRC
This record's URL: http://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/248891