Shame Aversion and Shame-Proneness in Cluster C Personality Disorders

Michelle Schoenleber, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The associations between shame and Cluster C personality disorders (PDs) were examined in 237 undergraduates, 35 of whom met at least subthreshold criteria for Cluster C PDs assessed using the Personality Disorder Interview-IV. Shame-proneness (the propensity to experience shame across many situations) was measured using the Test of Self-Conscious Affect-3, and shame aversion (the tendency to perceive shame as especially painful and undesirable) was measured using the Shame-Aversive Reactions Questionnaire. A go/no-go association task was used to assess the strength of implicit mental representations of the association between shame and pain, relative to that between shame and pleasure. Shame-proneness and shame aversion were associated with Cluster C PD symptoms over and above trait positive and negative affect. Further, shame-proneness was found to be associated with Cluster C PDs among individuals with high but not low levels of shame aversion. Finally, shame-pain associations were uniquely associated with dependent personality disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-205
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cluster C personality disorders
  • avoidant personality disorder
  • dependent personality disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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