Inquiry into shame: exploring mindfulness, self-compassion, acceptance, and mind-wandering as methods of shame management

  • Neda Sedighimornani

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Shame is a complex emotion and often discussed with reluctance; these feelings are usually incapacitating and unbearable. In this thesis, four studies explored aspects of shame vulnerability and shame management. First, a cross-sectional study (n = 240) was carried out to assess factors contributing to the experience of shame. This study demonstrated that negative self-judgment and submissive coping strategies accounted for a significant variance in shame above and beyond the effects of recall of adverse childhood experiences, and that negative self-judgment fully mediated the relationship between recall of childhood experiences and shame. The second study (n = 140 and n = 415) examined the underlying factor structure of a new measure: the Acceptance of Shame and Embarrassment Scale (ASES). Factor analysis in both samples revealed that the ASES had good internal consistency and construct validity.Thirdly, a cross sectional study (n = 159) considered self-compassion and mindfulness as methods of shame management and demonstrated that mindful and self-compassionate were significantly and negatively correlated with the experience of shame. In addition, this study showed that self-compassion fully mediated the mindfulness-shame relationship. The final experimental study (n = 120) assessed the effect of shame on mind wandering. Participants were assigned to shame, pride, or control conditions, and mind wandering during a subsequent reading task was measured using retrospective and behavioural methods. Inducing feelings of shame did not have a significant effect on mind wandering. Overall, these studies suggested that (a) adverse childhood experiences were significantly associated with negative self-judgment and shame, (b) adopting submissive coping strategies is likely to increase the chance of shame vulnerability, (c) the Acceptance of Shame and Embarrassment Scale had promising psychometric properties for assessing acceptance of shame and embarrassment experiences, (d) self-compassion mediated the relationship between mindfulness and shame, and (e) inducing feelings of shame did not have a significant effect on mind wandering.
Date of Award7 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorBas Verplanken (Supervisor) & Katharine Rimes (Supervisor)


  • Shame
  • acceptance
  • mind-wandering
  • mindfulness
  • self-compassion

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