Shame on You, Shame on Me: Shame as an Evolutionary Adaptation
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Can shame be good for you? We often think of shame as a shackling emotion that thwarts our individuality and creativity. A sense of shame could prevent us from choosing a partner we truly love, speaking out against societal traditions that propagate injustice, or pursuing a profession that is deemed unworthy by our peers. But if shame is so detrimental, why did we evolve with this emotion? A team of researchers led by Daniel Sznycer from the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that suggests that shame is an important evolutionary adaptation. According to their research, which was conducted in the United States, Israel, and India, the sense of shame helps humans avoid engaging in acts that could lead to them being devalued and ostracized by their community.