Shame for money: Shame enhances the incentive value of economic resources

Chia Chi Wang, Ying Yao Cheng, Wen Bin Chiou, Chun Chia Kung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Shame leads to devaluation of the social self, and thus to a desire to improve self-esteem. Money, which is related to the notion of one's ability, may help people demonstrate competence and gain self-esteem and respect from others. Based on the perspectives of feelings-as-information and threatened ego, we tested the hypothesis that a sense of shame heightens the desire for money, prompting self-interested behaviors as reflected by monetary donations and social value orientation. The results showed that subjects in the shame condition donated less money (Experiment 1) and exhibited more self-interested choices in the modified decomposed game (Experiment 2). The desire for money as reflected in overestimated coin sizes mediated the effect of shame on self-interested behavior. Our findings suggest that shame elicits the desire to acquire money to amend the threatened social self and improve self-esteem; however, it may induce a self-interested inclination that could harm social relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics


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