Shame, Guilt, Ego Development, and the Five-Factor Model of Personality

Danielle Einstein, Kevin Lanning*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Citations (Scopus)


    Shame, guilt, and ego development are conceptually interrelated constructs, yet their empirical relations have not yet been examined. Further, these constructs have not yet been mapped onto the widely used Five-Factor Model. In Study 1, relations were examined between these three domains within a sample of Australian university students. Two types of guilt were distinguished, Empathic Guilt (associated with Agreeableness) and Anxious Guilt (associated with Neuroticism). The relationship between Shame and Ego Level was found to be curvilinear, with Shame greatest for persons at intermediate stages of ego development. In Study 2, relations between ego development and the Five-Factor Model were further examined. Across both studies, Ego Level was best predicted from Conscientiousness among men and from Openness among women. Relations between Ego Level, proneness to shame and guilt, and the five factors were typically modest, suggesting that these represent complementary approaches to the study of personality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)555-582
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of personality
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


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