Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Harter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathy Green

Third Advisor

Daniel N. McIntosh

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Shirk

Fifth Advisor

Nancy Whitesell


Blame, Devaluation, Embarrassment, Humiliation, Self-conscious emotions, Shame


The goal of this research was to provide a comprehensive investigation of the emotional experience of humiliation by examining: (1) the direct effects of self-esteem and narcissism on emotional responses to potentially humiliating events; (2) the direct effects of the emotional correlates of humiliating experiences (i.e. sadness, humiliation, and anger) on the related behavioral reactions to such events (i.e., withdrawal, retaliation, and minimization); and (3) a process model to determine whether or not the emotional correlates of potentially humiliating events mediated the predicted effects of self-esteem and narcissism on the behavioral consequences on those events.

Participants, ranging in age from 18 to 25, were recruited via social networking websites and undergraduate psychology courses. The data were collected through an online survey tool that presented participants with 8 vignettes, describing mild to extreme humiliation-provoking events. Following each vignette, participants were asked to identify with the protagonist (the victim of the humiliating event) and answer a series of questions related to how their anticipated emotional and behavioral reactions to the hypothetical event. Analyses were based on the responses of 210 individuals.

Path analysis revealed that withdrawal behaviors were significantly predicted by low levels of self-esteem and high levels of sadness and humiliation. Self-esteem also had an indirect effect on withdrawal, through its association with humiliation. Retaliation was predicted by high levels of narcissism. Anger and humiliation were also associated with retaliation. There was an indirect positive effect of narcissism on retaliation, through its relationship with anger. The positive relationship between humiliation and retaliation was altered once anger was controlled for. Finally, high levels of minimization were associated with low levels of anger. Additionally, narcissism had a very small, but significant, indirect effect on minimization, whereby lower levels of narcissism led to decreases in participants' tendencies to feel angry, following a potentially humiliating event, which resulted in greater endorsement of minimization behaviors. Implications were discussed, as were suggestions for future research. Conclusions emphasized the need for a developmental understanding of these processes.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kendall Elyse McCarley


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

107 p.


Developmental Psychology