Shame in social interaction : Descriptions of experiences of shame by participants with high or low levels of narcissistic traits

Emmi Koskinen*, Pentti Henttonen, Sanna Kie Kettunen, Sanna Pesonen, Matias Piispanen, Liisa Voutilainen, Mariel Wuolio, Anssi Peräkylä

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In this study, we investigate how personal experiences about shameful events are described in face-to-face social interaction, and how these stories differ between participants who have either high or low levels of narcissistic personality traits. The dataset consists of 22 dyadic conversations where the participants describe events where they felt ashamed of themselves. We found the narratives to vary in terms of five dimensions. With narcissistic individuals, the default narrative tended to exhibit a cluster of characteristics that gather at one end of these dimensions: (1) weak expressions of shame; (2) located in the story-world; (3) low level of reflexivity as well as; (4) responsibility of the described event; and (5) a general level of description. We discuss the findings in relation to sociological and psychological theories of shame and suggest that individuals with narcissistic personality traits are more inclined to use suppressive conversational practices in their treatment of shame, thus providing a “window” to these interactional practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1429-1449
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume63
Issue number3
Early online date2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • face-work
  • grandiose narcissism
  • narcissistic traits
  • narrative
  • shame
  • storytelling

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