Conceptualising humiliation

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Humiliation lacks an empirically derived definition, sometimes simply being equated with shame. We approached the conceptualisation of humiliation from a prototype perspective, identifying 61 features of humiliation, some of which are more central to humiliation (e.g. losing self-esteem) than others (e.g. shyness). Prototypical humiliation involved feeling powerless, small, and inferior in a situation in which one was brought down and in which an audience was present, leading the person to appraise the situation as unfair and resulting in a mix of emotions, most notably disappointment, anger, and shame. Some of the features overlapped with those of shame (e.g. looking like a fool, losing self-esteem, presence of an audience) whereas other features overlapped with those of anger (e.g. being brought down, unfairness). Which specific features are present may determine whether the humiliation experience becomes more shame- or anger-like (or a combination thereof).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1581-1594
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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