The relation between value priorities and proneness to guilt, shame, and empathy

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Abstract

The relations of value priorities (the Schwartz Value Survey) to guilt, shame (Tangney's Test of Self-Conscious Affect) and empathy (Davis' Interpersonal Reactivity Index) were examined in two samples, one of 15–19-year-old secondary school students (N = 207), and the other of military conscripts (N = 503). As hypothesized, guilt-proneness was, in both samples, positively related to valuing universalism, benevolence, tradition, and conformity, and negatively related to valuing power, hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction. The results for empathic concern and perspective-taking were similar, but their relation to the openness–conservation value dimension was weaker. Shame and personal distress were weakly related to values, suggesting that voluntary control is less important for these tendencies. In general, self-transcendence and conservation values seem compatible with prosocial tendencies, whereas self-enhancement and openness do not.

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