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Culture & Religion

How Guilt-Prone Are You?

A study out of Carnegie Mellon University says that the more you anticipate guilty feelings, the more likely it is you'll do the right thing even if no one is watching.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Social scientists at Carnegie-Mellon University have published their findings of a study that measured over 270 participants to determine their levels of “guilt proneness.” Guilt proneness is the ability to anticipate bad feelings prior to doing something bad. The researchers used a 16-point Guilt and Shame Proneness (GASP) scale to find out subjects’ responses to various dilemmas such as this one: “After realizing you have received too much change at a store, you decide to keep it because the salesclerk doesn’t notice. What is the likelihood that you would feel uncomfortable about keeping the money?”

What’s the Big Idea?

People with higher levels of guilt proneness were, unsurprisingly, more likely to walk the moral and ethical straight and narrow, even if they weren’t being observed or going to get caught. Between 30% and 40% of adults in the study qualified as highly guilt-prone, and more women than men, and more older people than younger people, were in the high guilt-proneness category. Put simply, these are the “nice folks” that the researchers suggest you want in your life and workplace. 

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