The social sharing of emotions derives from the human demand for interpersonal contact and interaction. This leads people to verbally share their emotional experiences, often immediately after the event and frequently with more than one person (Rimé, 2009). However, research has shown that negative self-conscious emotions, such as shame and guilt, play a critical role in restraining the social sharing process (Finkenauer & Rimé, 1998). The present research aimed to: a) determine any differences in the sharing of the two emotions; b) analyse the beneficial effect (if any) of sharing experiences c) investigate whether the positive resolution of feelings of guilt or shame affects the perceived intensity of the emotion.Seventy people (39 women and 31 men) completed a 2 page questionnaire regarding one episode that elicited guilt and one that elicited shame. For each episode, participants were asked about the frequency of sharing, the people they chose to tell the episode to, the intensity of their emotional experience and how the episode ended.In both shame and guilt experiences, participants reported that they preferred to share their emotions with people close to them. Positive resolution of the episode seems to play a relevant role in the sharing process: episodes eliciting guilt that were not resolved were associated with higher intensity than episodes that had ended positively. Unresolved episodes eliciting shame had been shared later and with fewer partners than resolved episodes.Sharing episodes in which guilt and shame had been experienced is not infrequent and is globally considered useful. However, in sharing episodes of guilt, which focus on harmful behaviours, emotional intensity at the time of the event may negatively affect episode resolution; in the case of shame, in which the focus is on the whole self, the resolution of an episode may depend on the willingness to open oneself to the relationship.
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