Guilt is a discomfiting emotional experience that follows from our sense of having violated or failed to live up to our own internal values or standards of behavior. More specifically, guilt is often categorized as a “self-conscious” and “moral” emotion elicited by a process of self-evaluation and functioning to motivate conformity to social norms, enhance social relationships, and stimulate prosocial behavior. For this reason, guilt is regarded as an important component of moral development and moral character. This entry will explore the nature of guilt, its role in moral development and behavior, as well as individual differences and situational factors that may impact the experience and potency of guilt.

The Self-Conscious Nature of Guilt

As a self-conscious emotion, the experience of guilt requires a sense of self ...

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