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Original Article

Guilt and Shame Through Recipients’ Eyes

The Moderating Effect of Blame

Published Online:

Previous research has found that people collectively wronged by an outgroup take insult when its representative offers compensation, and that an expression of shame but not guilt can lower such insult. This experiment showed a moderating factor: strength of outgroup blame. Black community members were participants, presented with an apology for discriminatory searches of Blacks by the police. The effects – that shame but not guilt reduces insult from compensation – were replicated only among those who strongly blamed outgroup entities. As before, these effects emerged only on insult rather than satisfaction measures, and only when compensation was offered. When blamed by the public, an official body should therefore consider how much its apology conveys shame rather than guilt.