Cortisol response to embarrassment and shame

Child Dev. Jul-Aug 2002;73(4):1034-45. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00455.


This study examined individual differences in 4-year-old children's (N = 60) expression of the self-conscious emotions of embarrassment and shame and their relation to differences in cortisol response to stress. Results indicated the presence of two different types of embarrassment--one that reflected negative evaluation of the self, and the other a nonevaluative type that reflected simply exposure of the self when the individual was the object of attention of others. Results also indicated a relation between a higher cortisol response to stress and the greater expression of the self-conscious emotions of evaluative embarrassment and shame that reflected negative self-evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Shame*


  • Hydrocortisone