Renewing Graduate Programs by Overcoming Routinization
ROUTINES IN HUMAN SCIENCE: THE CASE OF EMOTION WORDS
Thomas J. Scheff
Abstract: This paper proposes that human science has fallen into routine, by showing how vernacular words, rather than well-defined concepts, are used in systematic research. A review of the breadth of the meaning of love in the English language, and the narrowness of the meaning of shame, suggests that studies of these emotions are trapped in unexamined cultural assumptions. What may be the best example of entrapment is the vast field of self-esteem research, because self-esteem has not been defined conceptually. In vernacular usage, the part played by pride and shame as components of self-esteem is hidden and confusing. The lack of progress in this field suggests that adherence to scientific routines, no matter how scrupulous, can’t solve conceptual problems. For this reason, human science may need to de-routinize. Conceptualization would take precedence over theory, method, and data routines, and move toward more integration between the routinely separated disciplines, sub-disciplines, and levels of analysis.
Most advances in knowledge have occurred when some brave soul broke out of her/his routine. De-routinized, the learner is able to see a problem that had hitherto had been invisible, and apply a new approach to solving it. Freud’s early work as a psychiatrist provides an example. Since his training was medical, he wasn’t’ much use to his patients at first. But the case of Anna O, mishandled by his mentor, Breuer, shocked him out of medical routines. He deduced that what the patient had most needed was not intervention on the physician’s part, medical or otherwise, but a sympathetic listener. This insight was the beginning of modern psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.
Durkheim’s study of social bases of suicide provides another example. In a single stroke, he founded modern social science, by formulating a new problem and attacking it in a new way. He combined theory (anomie), a qualitative method (anthropological observations of particular cultures), and a quantitative method (comparative statistical analysis of suicide rates). Largely on the basis of this single study, Durkheim became a charismatic figure for sociologists.
As Weber has taught us, the usual fate of charisma is routinization1. In the current social and behavioral sciences, the three approaches that Durkheim integrated so successfully have become routinized into separate specialties, with little congress between them. Theorists review classic and new formulations, without benefit of method or data. Qualitative methodologists conduct descriptive ethnographies or analyze conversation, and quantitative methodologists apply numerical analysis to atheoretical or social problems.
In this format, new problems cannot be approached in a new way, since the researcher has a prior commitment to theory, qualitative or quantitative methods and to one of the disciplines as well. Perhaps these prior commitments, routinizations, are the main reason that the human sciences are struggling. Our graduate programs continue the process of routinization by training students to become specialists in one of the three approaches, and in one of the separate disciplines, subdisciplines, or levels of analysis. This process of routinization, that dominates virtually all of human science, has turned us into blind men and women trying to describe an elephant.
Routine is not the enemy of science, since it saves time, effort and emotion. Like all other problems, human problems require both routine and innovation. Kuhn (1961) famously made this point over forty years ago. His idea of "normal science" is the equivalent of what I am calling scientific activity based completely on routines. Kuhn’s point was that these routine uses of scientific method are effective when employed as the "mopping up" operation in the wake of a great discovery. The Human Genome Project provides an example: routine procedures can be used to map genetic materials because of the discovery of the structure of DNA.
Perhaps Kuhn was too gracious to note that scientific routines are ineffective, even useless, when there has been no great discovery. This is the situation faced by human science. Routine becomes destructive to the extent that it takes over completely, exiling innovation and change2. There are areas in the human sciences where this has already happened, as seems to be the case in self-esteem research, to be discussed below. Many other areas may be approaching a similar deadlock.
Studies of suicide like Durkheim’s, mentioned above, provide an example of the problem of research that is not based on a great discovery. Although his findings have been replicated, the correlation between degree of social integration, however it is indexed, and suicide rates is always quite small, accounting for less than 10% of the variance. The tiny size of the correlation suggests that other factors are involved, perhaps many others. The theory of social integration does not explain the major cause(s) of suicide.
There was a legitimate reason for Durkheim’s study: he was establishing sociology as an approach separate from other disciplines, especially separate from psychology. But now that sociology, psychology, and economics have all been established as separate disciplines, it seems futile to try to explain human conduct exclusively within a single discipline.
Cases in point are the Blau and Duncan study (1967) of incomes and the replications of it. These studies copy the statistical part of Durkheim’s study of suicide, attempting to explain complex human conduct by using only social variables. But the upshot is that only a tiny proportion of the variance is accounted for.
The 1967 study may be the high water mark in this regard, since class of origin accounts for 16% of the variance, about twice as much as in the Durkheim study, and replications. Still, the findings do not account for the major forces at work in shaping income. As far as I know, there have been no studies of the role of luck, pluck, obsession, and so on, in addition to social class, in the building of fortunes.
The way in which human science imitates methods of the founders recalls an episode that occurred during my days as a physicist. Our lab in Berkeley was built around a 60-inch cyclotron, at the time the biggest in the world. When a group of Japanese scientists decided to build their own, they copied the cyclotron mechanically, including a hole in the magnet, an abysmal error. Like this group of scientists, most human science copies the errors of the founders, as well as their advances.
The French philosopher Emile Chartier observed that "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have" (circa 1910). He may not have had the disciplines and sub-disciplines in mind, but his observation fits exactly. Specializing in a single aspect of knowledge is usually a good idea at the time it is undertaken, but ultimately comes also to be an impediment to advance in knowledge. The original good idea is often used as a shield against other, equally good ideas.
Perhaps at this point the only way to generate results that might explain the major causes of a social phenomena would be to utilize variables from all the relevant disciplines. If economic, psychological, and social variables each contributed some 12% of the variance, and the interaction between the three, say 15%, one would have accounted for more than half of the variance. In this circumstance, it would be unlikely that an important causal factor had been omitted.
I have been unable to find a study involving three disciplines in this way. But recent studies of health levels of welfare recipients in Sweden combine economic and psychological variables (Starrin, et al 1997, 2000, 2001 and additional publications in Swedish). Their basic finding, that shame and financial stress together predict poor health far better than either variable alone, has been replicated in different populations.
In addition to the integration of human science disciplines, a second task may be still be conceptual, and therefore, pre-scientific. The scientific approach is organized in terms of theory, method and data. But these tools are weak until concepts have been clearly defined, because scientists, like everyone else, live in the assumptive world of our own culture. The ocean of assumptions that each culture reflects and generates are virtually invisible. Unless these assumptions are identified and discussed, the tools of science may merely uphold the cultural/social status quo, rather than breaking new ground. In Mannheim’s sense, they are ideological, rather than utopian.
The way that cultural assumptions impede science has been nicely caught by the philosopher Quine:
The neatly worked inner stretches of science are an open space in the tropical jungle, created by clearing tropes [metaphors] away" (1979, p. 160).
That is to say, it usually happens that before scientific procedures are applicable, a ruling trope has to be overthrown. Quine’s formulation captures the radically intuitive element necessary for scientific advance. Tropes are linguistic/mental routines that both reflect and hide cultural assumption.
Perhaps Erving Goffman’s work is a model in this regard, since it has de-routinization as its main goal (Scheff 2003). Each study can be seen as deconstructing lay and social sciences tropes, rather than establishing theory, method or data. His favorite trope was the Western individualized idea of the self. The self or person, he proposed in many different contexts, can just as easily be seen as a social arrangement. He also attacked established social institutions, such as sex roles and mental illness. This goal would explain why he seemed to start afresh with each work. "Look," he could have said, "We need to construct alternative universes. That’s why I start anew with each study, ignoring even my own earlier work."
The history of physical science reveals many examples of obstructive tropes. Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer, spent his adult life trying to determine the orbit of Venus. He made accurate observations of the position of the planet during his lifetime, but he assumed, like everyone else, that the planets revolved around the earth. For this reason he was one frustrated scientist.
Kepler, Brahe’s assistant, inherited the data after Brahe died. For years he made no progress. In his exasperation, Kepler developed a bizarre model in which orbits were determined by transparent solid polyhedrons. The model itself was mere fantasy, but in his flight of fancy he had unthinkingly placed the sun, rather than the earth, at the center. Although Kepler’s scientific skills were far inferior to Brahe’s, he quickly solved the problem (Koestler 1967).
In social and behavioral studies of emotions, most current research uses vernacular emotion words. But these words are all tropes: they are vague and ambiguous, and carry a huge freight of cultural assumptions. For example, in the English language the word love is extremely broad. As Aldous Huxely put it: "we use the word love for the most amazing variety of relationships, ranging from what we feel for our mothers to what we feel for someone we beat up in a bordello, or its many equivalents."
Robert Solomon, a philosopher of emotions, is more detailed (1981, pp. 3-4):
Consider… the wealth of meticulous and fine distinctions we make in describing our feelings of hostility: hatred, loathing, scorn, anger, revulsion, resentment, envy, abhorrence, malice, aversion, vexation, irritation, annoyance, disgust, spite and contempt, or worse, "beneath" contempt. And yet we sort out our positive affections for the most part between the two limp categories, "liking" and "loving." We distinguish our friends from mere acquaintances and make a ready distinction between lovers and friends whom we love "but not that way." Still, one and the same word serves to describe our enthusiasm for apple strudel, respect for a distant father, the anguish of an uncertain romantic affair and nostalgic affection for an old pair of slippers…
What Solomon seems to mean is that the word love is a trope, not a concept. In the English language, at least, it establishes a class of feeling words that is much too broad and inclusive to have unambiguous meaning In Spanish, for example, the class name love is narrower, referring only to feelings about persons. In the languages of strictly traditional societies, like Maori or Arabic, I surmise that the meaning is still narrower. Before we can identify genuine love, we need to decide what feelings should be included. But these feelings (affection, desire, attachment, infatuation, obsession, heartbreak, etc) are also tropes.
The broadness and ambiguity of the meaning of love may be the main reason that the scholarly literature is chaotic. Both classical and current scholarship is wildly divided in their assessment of love (Chapter 5, Scheff, forthcoming). There are various traditions that see love as heavenly, demonic, an affliction, a madness, as merely lust, and so on. The different traditions are in conflict because each focuses on only one facet of the many faceted vernacular meaning. They disagree because they are not discussing the same thing.
For example, in the current literature there is abrupt division between approaches that locate love in the body (attachment or imprinting, and/or sexual attraction) and in the mind and heart (unity between the lovers). The most sophisticated version of the latter approach has been offered by Solomon:
" …love [is] shared identity, a redefinition of self which no amount of sex or fun or time together will add up to….Two people in a society with an extraordinary sense of individual identity mutually fantasize, verbalize and act their way into a relationship that can no longer be understood as a mere conjunction of the two but only as a complex ONE. (1981, p.xxx; 1994, p.235)"
Solomon’s definition is much narrower than the vernacular meaning, and more complex. Although Solomon’s approach to defining love very helpful, it is incomplete in that it lacks any reference to the physical basis of non-erotic love, attachment, and for romantic love, both attachment and sexual attraction. Like the other authors that emphasize the cognitive/emotional side of love, Solomon simply ignores other sides.
It implies both unity of the lovers, on the one hand, and separateness ("an extraordinary sense of individual identity") on the other. This duality suggests that genuine love involves a balance, over time, between unity and separation.
If we are going to advance in our understanding of love, we will probably need to integrate the physical and the cognitive/emotional into a single definition. In another place (Scheff, Chapter 6, forthcoming), I have defined non-erotic love as a conjunction of attachment and attunement (shared identity/awareness). For romantic love, a third "A" is needed, (sexual) attraction.
Like Jasper (2003), I consider love to be an affect. But I attempt to go further conceptually, by defining the components and their interplay. In this approach, most of the various combinations of these components, because of the attunement requirement, are not classified as genuine love. Instead, they are viewed as look-alikes, such as mere desire, infatuation, obsession, affection, unresolved grief, etc. This definition of genuine love is more precise, complex, and narrower than both the vernacular meaning and the expert ones.
At this point it might be well to respond to an inner voice that I frequently hear coming from my "commonsense," my response as an ordinary man, son, parent, lover, etc. "Wait a minute, I say, aren’t you robbing love of its mystery, its sacredness, by defining it in such an explicit way?"
At first sight, my deconstruction of the concept of love may appear to be Grinch-like. Why remove the aura of ineffability, of sacred mystery by defining it as a concept? Perhaps this attempt is only one more example of what Max Weber called the progressive disenchantment of the world.
This is an important issue; we cannot afford just to shrug it off. Perhaps it is the price one has to pay for the advancement of understanding. But there us a further reason that is less obvious. It is possible that the ambiguities of the word love are defenses against feelings of separation and alienation, that the way that the idea of love evokes positive feelings of awe and mystery is also a defense against these painful feelings.
I suspect that my colleagues in the belle-lettres would carry this complaint quite a bit further than I have. They quote D. H. Lawrence’s passage to me, where he ridicules the way that emotion is often represented in the form of a stereotype:
We see love like a wooly lamb…, We see hate like a dog chained to a kennel. We see fear like a shivering monkey. We see anger like a bull with a ring through its nose, and greed like a pig… (Lawrence 1968, p. 756)
My colleagues use this passage to reject any attempt to explicitly define emotions. But that would be to misconstrue Lawrence’s argument, which concerns the problem of learning to feel. Poetry, the novel, and indeed all art, use ambiguity to surprise us into connecting with our hidden feelings. Lawrence proposes reading novels as one example of how we might educate or at least feel our feelings: "[The reader should] not listen to the didactic statements of the author, but to the low, calling cries of the characters, as they wander in the dark woods of their destiny" (ibid, p. 760).
He is not condemning all didactic statements, but only those in novels, which of course are no use for the reader who wants to feel emotions. In this paper, my purpose is not to help the reader feel emotion, but rather to understand them.
The Vernacular Meaning of Shame
The word for shame provides a contrasting example. Just as English defines love enormously broadly, current usage defines shame extremely narrowly, as a crisis emotion of disgrace that is conscious and painful. There is no room in the trope for what may be the most prevalent type of shame, that which is unacknowledged, and on many occasions, outside of awareness. Responses to insult and rejection, for example, are often hidden by anger or completely suppressed. Men, particularly, frequently feel either angry, on the one hand, or blank, empty, or hollow, on the other, instead of experiencing shame. Nor is there room for what has been called discretion shame (a sense of shame; see the comment on modesty, below).
Most popular and expert writing on shame uses the vernacular meaning without discussion. John Bradshaw’s (1988) bestseller, Healing the Shame that Binds You, explicitly endorses it. According Bradshaw, all shame is "toxic," a poison. Most self-help books in psychology assume the same.
The meaning of shame in orthodox psychoanalysis is similar. Freud took the stance that guilt is the appropriate emotion for male adults, reserving shame for children, women, and natives in traditional societies. Although by no means a follower of Freud, June Tangney, the leading shame researcher in psychology, takes position parallel to Freud’s. She sees guilt positively, and shame as merely painful. (For a complete review of her framework and her extensive research on shame, see Tangney and Dearing 2002).
But languages other than English, to varying degrees, define shame more broadly. They include an everyday shame, such as "pudeur" in French (modesty), and in many languages, the emotion of embarrassment. For this latter reason it is not surprising that several experiments in social psychology have shown that English-speaking subjects consider embarrassment and shame to be separate emotions. The mistake is that these researchers concluded that they ARE separate emotions, because they had not done the same study with speakers of French, or other languages3.
The vast differences in the size of the class names for love and shame between English and other languages suggest a conjecture about modernization and culture. It is possible that since England has had the longest experience with industrialization and urbanization, alienation is most advanced in Anglophone countries like England and the US. If this is the case, the broadness of the class name for love, and the narrowness of the vernacular class name for shame, serve to disguise alienation and separation. Love, a positive term, can be applied even to dysfunctional relationships such as pathological dependency ("My husband beats me and molests the kids, but I can’t leave because I love him too much"). Similarly, there are literally hundreds of words that hide shame/embarrassment. ("It was an award moment for me"). Retzinger (1991; 1995), drawing upon the sizeable research literatures on anger and on shame/embarrassment, has established classes of vernacular words ("cue words") that are used to refer to (and mask) the two emotions.
The English language version of the shame trope has produced chaos in emotion research. Katz’s volume (1999) on emotions is extraordinarily insightful in its treatment of anger and grief (crying), but his original, elaborate definition of shame lies well within the vernacular idea of shame as a conscious, painful emotion of crisis (Scheff 2002).
Another instance can be found in Jasper’s (2003) division of feelings into four categories: reflex emotions, affects, moods, and complex moral emotions. There is no problem with the first three classes, but the fourth is probably gratuitous. Jasper includes anger, fear, joy, sadness (grief), disgust, and surprise as universal, genetically based reflex emotions. Following Ekman’s early work, Jasper excludes shame. But Ekman has recanted, including shame as a universal emotion (1998)4. The complex moral feelings that Jasper refers to include shame as a component, but also have cognitive and social components.
Finally, it’s worthwhile to note that Oatley and Jenkins’ (1995) broad approach to the psychology of emotions, the industry standard, includes many discussions of shame, but offers no definition. It’s too early to say which version of the meaning of shame will be most helpful in advancing knowledge. But it is at least clear that in this early stage of human science research on emotions, we are in a state bordering on anarchy.
Self-esteem as a Trope
The enormous corpus of studies based on self-esteem scales suggests a consequence of the narrowness of the shame trope in English (Scheff and Fearon, 2004). At this point, there have been over fifteen thousand such studies, using one or another of the two hundred standardized scales that are available. These scales all have been shown to be reliable; that is, they repeatedly get similar results.
For this vast amount of labor, what have been the results? According to twelve reviews of the field, they have been trivially small. The average effect size over the last forty years seems to have been under 3% of the variance, and is not increasing. With 97 per cent of the variance unaccounted for, the field is treading water. If the instruments are not valid, then reliability means merely repeating error, like the group that copied the cyclotron.
What is the problem? One possibility is that the scales confound a cognitive element with an emotional one. They repeat an ambiguity in the meaning of the English word self-esteem, casting doubt on the validity of the scales.
According to dictionaries, the meaning of self-esteem in vernacular usage has both cognitive and affective components.
1.Pride in one’s self; self-respect. (American Heritage Dictionary. 2000)
2.Holding a good opinion of one's self; self-complacency. (Webster's Revised Unabridged dictionary.1998)
3.A feeling of pride in yourself [syn: self-pride] 2: the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect [syn: dignity, self-respect, self-regard] (Princeton University Wordline. 1997)
Two of the three definitions (1 and 3) offer a definition in terms of an emotion, pride. Definitions # 1 and 3 also suggest other synonyms that, if not emotions, are at least mixtures of feelings and thoughts, with feelings predominating: respect, regard and esteem. These two definitions stress the affective components of self-esteem. If we assume that shame is the emotion opposite to pride, then two of the three definitions suggest that high self-esteem involves pride proneness, and low self-esteem, shame proneness.
The implication that the vernacular meaning of self-esteem has a pride/shame component is supported by an empirical study of the relationship between self-esteem scores and affect. Using two self-esteem scales and a scale measuring positive and negative affect, Brown and Marshall (2001) found that pride and shame were the two emotions having the highest correlations with self-esteem scores.
But definition # 2 of self-esteem, above, points to another component: it mentions no emotions or feelings. Instead, it defines self-esteem cognitively, holding a good opinion of self. Self-esteem scales appear to emphasize this second meaning. Self-esteem scales and studies focus on that part of self-concept, self-evaluation, which is verbally described and cognitive, rather than affective and social. With a standardized paper and pencil test, it would be difficult to get at the affective component directly.
Although there are two hundred scales that define self-esteem operationally, I have been unable to find a single conceptual definition. But the confound between self-evaluation and self-feeling discussed here has come up indirectly. Baumeister et al (1996) have suggested that a too high self-esteem, which they equate with mere egotism, can lead to aggression when egotism is threatened. But if self-feeling is defined as the principle component of high self-esteem, genuine pride, the Baumeister paradox wouldn’t arise.
Their discussion ignores the distinctions between genuine pride and false pride (egotism), and between conscious shame and shame that is outside awareness. Self-esteem might be defined conceptually as a ratio based on proneness to genuine pride as against proneness to shame/embarrassment, everyday emotions that are prevalent in virtually all kinds of encounters and many states of consciousness. Since positive self-evaluation may be based on egotism and false pride, scales confound egotism, high cognitive self-evaluation, with high-self esteem (justified pride).
The effect of a model of self-esteem that has both cognitive and feeling components can be represented in a simple table.
||High Low |
Existing scales, since they use vernacular words and don’t distinguish between cognitive and emotional components, confound self-effacing attitudes and low self-esteem, and egotism and high self-esteem. Nowhere in the vast literature on self-esteem has this possibility been considered, probably because everyday pride and shame are hidden by the vernacular meanings of the words pride and shame in English.
Although not as intense as the emotion/cognitive and positive/negative splits in the meaning of shame, the vernacular meaning of the word pride in English is also ambiguous. Unless one precedes the word with "justified, authentic or genuine," there is an inflection of arrogance or hubris, " the pride that goeth before the fall." Uninflected pride is routinely considered to be on the Seven Deadly Sins. This type would better be called false pride, because it implies covering up shame. A new conceptual definition of self-esteem as an emotional/cognitive construct might help to resolve this embarrassing problem.
A massive investment of time, energy and publication space has occurred over a period of roughly half a century. The anarchy in definitions of shame in the sociology and psychology of emotions, discussed above, involves only a few individuals still in the first stages of discussion and exploration. The maturity and vast size of the field of self-esteem research, and lack of progress, suggests that routine has cast out innovation completely. The researcher grabs a handy scale, experimental design, and group of captive students, and "runs" a study, instead of formulating a new problem and solving it in a new way. How did this catastrophe come about?
Two Types of Error
No matter how rigorous and systematic the theory, method, and data collection, the formulation of the basic concepts is crucial. Investing virtually all research resources in method and/or data might be called the Brahe error. The modern disciplines of history and linguistics present one version of this error, to the extent that they focus entirely on descriptive data. Modern psychology presents another version, to the extent that it focuses entirely on method: surveys, experiments and scales. These fields are single- minded in their pursuit of what was once called dustbowl empiricism. The phrase has gone out of style, but the melody lingers on.
Economics and the theory wing of sociology, on the other hand, make what might be called the Kepler error, to the extent that they focus on fanciful theories of economic or social systems, as if Kepler had stayed with his polyhedrons. Most theories in these two fields not only lack any data, they are little concerned with how future studies might connect theory with the real world.
Typical studies in human science are routinely committed to either the Brahe or the Kepler error. Refined methods like surveys, experiments, still photos, and scales, or abstract theories like evolution or exchange are unlikely to be valid as long as vernacular language is used for the key concepts. Ordinary language entraps both subjects and researchers in the myriad assumptions that are made in each society. When we study and analyze topics defined by ordinary language, we literally don’t know what we are talking about.
Is there any way to escape entrapment in our culture? As already indicated, one step in that direction would be to define the main topics in a study in terms of explicit concepts, rather than using vernacular words.
To even begin to attack the problem of defining emotions conceptually, it would likely be a great help if the human sciences of emotion could join forces with cultural studies and at least the language disciplines of the humanities. The brief and casual reference I made above to the meanings of emotion words in French and other languages will require very detailed and knowledgeable studies by experts on cultures and/or on specific languages. For example, Konstan5 has explored the meaning of the two basic words for shame in classic Greek, and compared these meanings with modern Western languages. Such studies may prove to be mandatory in the quest for clear conceptual definitions of emotion words.
In a still wider frame, is there any general way of integrating the separate routines of theory, method, and data, disciplines and sub-disciplines, levels of analysis (micro and macro), the humanities, etc? Even if we use conceptual, rather than vernacular definitions of in our formulation of the problem, we still face an unsettling obstacle. Vernacular words and "common sense" in any culture, which are a drawback because they are ambiguous, still have a great advantage over current human science. Most problem solving by laypersons is relatively unspecialized: it draws on conscious and unconscious ideas ("intuition") freely, and the person’s total realm of knowledge, catch as catch can. The specialized knowledge of the various human sciences, which usually accounts for only a small part of any particular type of conduct, has found it hard to compete.
In an earlier publication (Scheff 1997), I proposed part/whole analysis as a move toward integration. The philosopher Spinoza was one of the first to note the extraordinary complexity of human conduct. He proposed that in order to understand even routine behavior, we need to relate "the least parts to the greatest wholes." I have interpreted this to mean that we need integration in the human sciences between the disciplines, the micro and macro levels just as a first step, in order to link data and theory. Understanding research results in relation to social/cultural wholes is only one aspect of this larger framework.
- For a recent analysis of what seems to be a parallel idea, ritualization, see Knottnerus 1997.
- The physicist Boltzmann first noticed this problem. When a new method gets results, many scientists become wedded to it, coming “to believe that the development of science to the end of all time would consist in the automatic and unremitting application of it “ (Boltzmann 1899).
- Ross and Nesbitt (1991) did somewhat better with their study of the the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). They cite many studies of English-speaking subjects that show a preference subjects have for explaining motives in terms of characteristics of the person, rather than the situation. However, they manage to cite one study of Hindu subjects. These subjects didn’t privilege personal explanations over situational ones. Perhaps the FAE is not so fundamental after all, but only a characteristic that differentiates between modern and traditional cultures. Modern cultures are ruthlessly individualistic, and traditional ones just as ruthlessly social.
- According to Ekman (1998, p. 38): “‘I have not published my findings on shame [that it is universal], but they are very well documented in my work among the South Fore of Papua New Guinea [1967-68].” One wonders why these findings didn’t keep him from excluding shame from the facial emotion test he and Friesen (1972) developed, and why it took him 30 years to mention them.
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