For decades, shame has been understood as a negative, self-conscious feeling with mostly negative interpersonal consequences. As a result, shame is currently perceived as an ugly emotion that motivates social withdrawal, avoidance, and inhibition. The present chapter challenges this view of shame and suggests instead that shame has a positive interpersonal function with positive consequences. Shame is thought to function as a general sociometer, a monitor indicating the danger of being excluded from groups in general. It would motivate affiliated behaviors such as cooperation, prosocial behavior, and approach of others to address this possible exclusion. The chapter starts with a critical overview of existing research that supports the view of shame as an ugly emotion, demonstrating that empirical support for this view is debatable. It then continues with the view of shame as a general sociometer and presents empirical research that supports this view. Together, these findings reveal that shame may not be so ugly and may be more beneficial than originally thought.

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Department of Marketing Management

de Hooge, I. (2014). The general sociometer shame: Positive interpersonal consequences of an ugly emotion. Retrieved from