Date of Award

Spring 6-2-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Thane Erickson, PhD

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Thomas Carpenter, PhD

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Keyne Law, PhD


Shame proneness is associated with psychopathology and may serve as a risk factor for experiencing distressing emotions at subclinical and clinical levels across diagnoses. Additionally, shame-prone individuals may have increased sensitivity toward interpersonal stressors and negative shifts in self-evaluations. However, little to no research has examined shame proneness as a prospective risk factor for distressed moods following interpersonal stressors using experience sampling methods. Furthermore, disagreement on theories of shame make it difficult to achieve consistent results in the literature. The purpose of this study was to assess whether shame proneness acts as a risk factor for distressed moods in the context of interpersonal stressors. Participants included 152 (76% female) undergraduate students (Mage = 19.51, SD = 2.09) varying across clinical and non-clinical levels of anxiety and mood disorders. Participants completed baseline measures of shame- and guilt-proneness followed by ratings of stressful interactions for five weeks, three times a week. Participants rated the degree to which the stressful event involved the other individual’s negative evaluation, and the degree to which the participants viewed themselves as having agency (i.e., status, social standing) and communion (i.e., social connection) as a result of the interaction. Participants also rated concurrent depressed, anxious, and angry moods at the time of the interaction. Multilevel modeling was used to test the effects of shame proneness (controlling for guilt proneness) on daily distressed moods and moderations with the above person-mean centered interpersonal stressors. Results showed that grand-mean centered shame proneness prospectively predicted depressed and anxious but not angry moods across stressor contexts (b = 0.02, 95CI = [0.01, 0.04]; b = 0.02, 95CI = [0.01, 0.04]; and b = 0.02, 95CI = [-0.01, 0.03], respectively). Only perceived negative evaluation interacted with shame proneness when predicting angry mood (b = 0.0001, 95CI = [0.0001, 0.0005]), such that individuals higher in shame proneness experienced even more angry mood following these stressors relative to less shame-prone peers. Shame proneness did not interact with perceived submission or disconnectedness when predicting distressed moods, contrary to hypotheses. Implications for theory of shame are discussed.