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Understanding Shame in Adults: Retrospective Perceptions of Parental-Bonding During Childhood


The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: October 1997 - Volume 185 - Issue 10 - p 595-598

The association between perceptions of parental-bonding style during childhood and moral affect of shame at young adulthood were examined with 264 women and 140 men (mean age [± SD] = 20.4 ± 1.6 years old). Shame affect was significantly positively related to fear of negative evaluation by others and social avoidance, and negatively related to recalled parental care in one's childhood. Multiple regression analyses indicated that maternal protectiveness, paternal care, fear of negative social evaluation, and social avoidance were significant predictors of shame, explaining 41% of the variance. Results support object relations theory, which states that shame is a moral affect associated with social evaluation apprehension and may have developmental implications for one's parental relations.

1 Department of Psychology, CUNY/Baruch College, 17 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10010.

2 Department of Psychology, DePaul University, 2219 North Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60614-3504.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Ferrari.

© Williams & Wilkins 1997. All Rights Reserved.