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University of ConnecticutSocial Psychology Prof. Colin Wayne Leach, Ph.D.



            In every human attitude -- for example in emotion… -- we shall find the whole of human reality,
            since emotion is the human reality which assumes itself and which, “aroused,” “directs” itself
            toward the world. {…] There is, in effect, a world of emotion.             ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

We study pride, guilt, shame, anger, envy, ressentiment, and schadenfreude, among other feelings.  We are especially interested in the relational quality of emotion – how the subjective experience is rooted in individuals’ and groups’ relation to the world (see Tiedens & Leach, 2004).  For us, a given emotion is not inherently positive or negative for social relations.  What makes an emotion – like anger or pride or shame – constructive or destructive is how it is negotiated in the particular relationship in which it exists.  For example, shame can motivate pro-social effort when the ashamed believe that they can improve themselves and their social relationships by being contrite and making restitution (see Gausel & Leach, 2011; Gausel, Leach, Vignoles, & Brown, 2012).


Guilt and Shame