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Social-functional Characteristics of Chinese Terms Translated as “Shame” or “Guilt”: A Cross-referencing Approach

Liu, Daqing, Giner-Sorolla, Roger (2023) Social-functional Characteristics of Chinese Terms Translated as “Shame” or “Guilt”: A Cross-referencing Approach. Cognition and Emotion, 37 (3). pp. 466-485. ISSN 0269-9931. E-ISSN 1464-0600. (doi:10.1080/02699931.2023.2179976) (KAR id:100180)


Previous research has found a rich lexicon of shame and guilt terms in Chinese, but how comparable these terms are to “shame” or “guilt” in English remains a question. We identified eight commonly used Chinese terms translated as “shame” and “guilt”. Study 1 assessed the Chinese terms’ intensities, social characteristics, and action tendencies among 40 Chinese speakers. Testing term production in the reverse direction, Study 2 asked another Chinese-speaking sample (N = 85) to endorse emotion terms in response to eight eliciting scenarios generated using each term’s social characteristics from Study 1. A native English-speaking sample (N = 83) was also included to examine production of English emotion terms and compare motivational tendencies cross-culturally. Using this cross-referencing method, we found that some of the Chinese terms shared similar social-functional characteristics to their English translation, but some had distinct profiles. The two large shame-like and guilt-like term categories yielded in Study 1 were replicated in Study 2’s Chinese term-production task where larger-scale correspondences between categorised elicitors and term clusters were found. Meanwhile, English speakers’ term use provided further evidence for the equivalence between some Chinese terms and “shame” or “guilt” both in terms of their social and motivational characteristics.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/02699931.2023.2179976
Uncontrolled keywords: guilt, shame, Chinese, English, language, lexicon, social emotions, cross-linguistic
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Roger Giner-Sorolla
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2023 13:13 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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