Yoshiya Furukawa (古川善也), Ken'ichiro Nakashima (中島健一郎), Tsukawaki, R. (塚脇涼太)& Yasuko Morinaga (森永康子) (in press).
Guilt as a signal informing us of a threat to our morality.
Current Psychology
doi: 10.1007/s12144-019-0144-4

Some studies have shown the possibility that people feel guilt not only due to interpersonal problems but also when experiencing threats to their own internal morality (e.g. Eskine et al. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(5), 947-950, 2013), whereas other studies have shown that guilt-induced behaviours can restore individuals’ sense of moral person (e.g. Gneezy et al. Management Science, 58(1), 179–187, 2012; Zhong et al. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(5), 859–862, 2010). These findings suggest that guilt can strongly reflect how much individuals deviate from what they perceive to be adequate moral person. Therefore, we proposed that guilt works as an alert system that signals people about threats to their morality. We used the Implicit Association Test (Greenwald et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1464-1480, 1998) to investigate if an individual’s moral self decreased in the situation where that individual felt guilt. Results showed that implicit moral self in the guilt condition was lower than that in the control condition when controlling for individual variation in moral self. Our findings provide a new perspective on the function of guilt and generate new hypotheses about the relationship between guilt and behaviours.