Distinguishing Shame from Embarrassment

Shame vs Embarrassment

The distinction between shame and embarrassment lies in their connections to morality. Shame and embarrassment are emotions that humans experience in uncomfortable situations, but they are quite different from each other. Shame is an emotional state that occurs when someone has done something wrong and is linked to morality. For instance, if we have hurt someone we care about, we feel ashamed. This is also related to guilt. On the other hand, embarrassment does not result from immorality. It occurs when an individual feels awkward in a difficult social situation. This article attempts to provide a clear understanding of these two terms and highlight their differences.

What is Shame?

Shame can be described as a discomfort that arises from the realization that one has done something wrong or foolish. This deep emotion is connected to guilt. A notable characteristic of shame is that when experiencing it, the individual engages in introspection, questioning their morality, and doubting whether their actions were moral or not. Through this process, the individual recognizes that their actions have been unjust and immoral.

For example, consider an employee who partakes in illegal activities to improve their standing within an organization, or a parent who fails to fulfill their parental duties. In both cases, the individual feels discomfort when realizing that they have engaged in wrongdoing. In the first case, it is the employee’s illegal actions, and in the second case, it is the parent’s lack of attention and care for their child.

However, embarrassment is distinct from shame as it does not involve introspection or questioning one’s morality.

What is Embarrassment?

Embarrassment can be described as feeling awkward or out of place in a particular situation. Everyone experiences embarrassment at some point in their daily lives. For instance, imagine slipping and falling in front of a crowd, or forgetting your words during a speech. In both scenarios, we feel embarrassed. Unlike shame, embarrassment is a milder emotional state. It often results from our fears of what others might think or say, which fuels our embarrassment and makes us feel self-conscious.

In contrast to shame, embarrassment is not a case of self-introspection. It is a mere reaction to a situation where the individual feels discomfort. Embarrassment is also temporary and varies from person to person. An individual with a meek personality might be more easily embarrassed compared to someone with a more outgoing and sociable disposition.

What is the difference between Shame and Embarrassment?

• Definitions of Shame and Embarrassment:
• Shame is the discomfort that arises from the awareness of having done something wrong or foolish.
• Embarrassment is the feeling of being awkward or out of place in a specific situation.
• Depth of the Emotion:
• Shame is a deeper emotion than embarrassment.
• Environment vs Self:
• Shame results from one’s own actions.
• Embarrassment results from the surrounding environment.
• Morality:
• Shame is connected to one’s morality.
• Embarrassment is not linked to one’s morality and is a temporary emotional state.
• Introspection:
• Introspection of oneself gives rise to shame.
• Embarrassment is often due to others.

Key Takeaways

  • Shame is a deep emotional state linked to morality and guilt, while embarrassment is a milder emotional state resulting from awkward social situations.
  • Shame involves introspection and questioning one’s morality, whereas embarrassment is a temporary reaction to uncomfortable situations and is not linked to morality.
  • Shame arises from one’s own actions, while embarrassment is influenced by the surrounding environment and other people’s perceptions.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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