Shame, guilt, and posttraumatic stress symptoms: A three-level meta-analysis

Congrong Shi, Zhihong Ren (Corresponding Author), Chunxiao Zhao, Tao Zhang, Sunny Ho Wan Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Existing empirical findings are inconsistent on the correlations of shame and guilt with posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). This study aimed to quantitatively summarize the strength of the associations of shame and guilt with PTSS and explore potential moderators. Based on a three-level meta-analytic method, shame was positively correlated with PTSS, no matter whether the effects of guilt were controlled; guilt also had a positive correlation with PTSS, regardless of whether the effects of shame were partialling out. Moderator analyses showed that type of shame measure (generalized vs. contextual vs. trauma-specific shame) moderated the relation between shame and PTSS, and type of guilt measure (generalized vs. contextual vs. trauma-specific guilt) moderated the relation between guilt and PTSS. In addition, culture had a marginally significant moderating effect on the relation between guilt and PTSS, with a stronger association of guilt with PTSS in Western culture than in Eastern culture. These results supported the links of shame and guilt to PTSS and implied that we should focus on the conceptual underpinnings of the manifest psychometric issue and maintain cultural sensitivity in future research. The implications for posttraumatic stress disorder treatment were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102443
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Culture
  • Guilt
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Shame
  • Three-level meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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