Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Shame On Us: Shaming Some Kids Makes Them More Aggressive

Date:
December 22, 2008
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Aren't you ashamed of yourself? All these years, you've been trying to build up your child's self-esteem, and now a growing body of research suggests you may be making a big mistake. A study published in Child Development finds that early adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to react aggressively when they feel ashamed than their peers with lower levels of self-esteem.

Aren't you ashamed of yourself? All these years, you've been trying to build up your child's self-esteem, and now a growing body of research suggests you may be making a big mistake. A study published in the December issue of Child Development finds that early adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to react aggressively when they feel ashamed than their peers with lower levels of self-esteem.

Related Articles


"Young teens with low self-esteem apparently don't feel the need to protect their punctured egos," said University of Michigan psychologist Brad J. Bushman, a co-author of the study with colleagues from VU University and Utrecht University in The Netherlands.

For the study, Bushman, Sander Thomaes, and colleagues conducted an experiment with 163 children ages 10 to 13, from Michigan middle schools. Almost all were white, and slightly more than half (54 percent) were males.

A few weeks before participating in the on-line experiments, the young people filled out a questionnaire designed to assess their levels of self-esteem and narcissism.

The researchers measured self-esteem by assessing the degree to which participants were satisfied with themselves and the way they led their lives. Sample statements included, "Some kids like the kind of person they are," and "Some kids are not very happy with the way they do a lot of things." They were asked if they were like that.

Narcissism included grandiose views of themselves, inflated feelings of superiority and entitlement, and exploitative interpersonal attitudes, assessed by questions such as, "Without me, our class would be much less fun;" "Kids like me deserve something extra;" and "I often succeed in getting admiration."

For the experiment, children were told they would be competing on an Internet reaction-time game called FastKid! against an opponent of the same sex and age from a school in Columbus, Ohio (where the Buckeyes live!). In reality, there was no opponent; the computer controlled all events. Those who were randomly selected for the "shame condition" were told that their opponent was one of the worst players in the supposed tournament, and they should easily win; when they lost, their last-place ranking was displayed on a website they believed that everyone could see. Children were told they could blast their opponent with a loud noise after winning a trial.

The narcissistic kids were more aggressive than others, but only after they had been shamed. "Narcissists seem highly motivated to create and maintain a grandiose view of self," the researchers wrote. "They tend to interpret social situations in terms of how they reflect on the self, and they engage in self-regulatory strategies to protect self-esteem when they need to. As shameful situations constitute a threat to grandiosity, narcissistic shame-induced aggression can likely be viewed as defensive effort to maintain self-worth."

The researchers found no support for the traditional view that low self-esteem underlies aggression. In fact, they found that high self-esteem increased narcissistic shame-induced aggression.

"It could be that narcissistic kids with high self-esteem are more vulnerable to shameful events than are kids with low self-esteem," said Bushman. "Or, they may differ in the way they deal with those events."

The implications for parents and teachers: Don't shame a child who has a high opinion of himself.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Shame On Us: Shaming Some Kids Makes Them More Aggressive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219172143.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2008, December 22). Shame On Us: Shaming Some Kids Makes Them More Aggressive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219172143.htm
University of Michigan. "Shame On Us: Shaming Some Kids Makes Them More Aggressive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219172143.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins