The power of shame

In Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses For An Old Tool, Jennifer Jacquet argues that although shame has gained a negative reputation, it can be a powerful tool for instigating change. She defines guilt as as the feeling you get when you’re not proud of what you did, and shame as the feeling you get when someone finds out.

Guilt does not instigate change because it is personal, shame does because there is the threat of an audience. If one can expose harmful practices of a large company for instance, they can be shamed into changing.

Shame works best when it is the only available tool—when the public has no other power. Our natural sense of Fairness

e.g. We cannot punish other countries for human rights abuses with the law, and so shame is a powerful tool.

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