Evolved sense of shame

We drink to intentionally make ourselfs stupid. We then like stupid inbreds lose our sense of shame. I’m sure life is much easier for imbeciles.

Shame works as a defense mechanism that protects us from the future loss of social status. Under this theory, anticipating the shame we would feel upon, say, being found out as a thief is useful because it helps keep us from embezzling money or swiping designer sunglasses at the mall.

Researchers asked 438 adult subjects from the United States, India, and Israel to imagine either themselves or others in 29 different scenarios. These scenarios included such frowned-upon behaviors as cheating on a spouse, shoplifting, and doing a bad job of taking care of children. Subjects rated their reactions to those scenarios on a scale from one to seven, with one indicating no shame or negative judgments and seven indicating a lot of shame or very negative judgments. The study found that subjects’ level of shame was calibrated to the magnitude of the potential loss of social status involved.

The more likely people are to devalue you, the more shame the person who does the bad thing feels, even when there’s no communication whatsoever between the person and the audience. And that’s precisely what you would expect from a well-designed defense.

People with no sense of value feel no shame. Some of these people can be shamed into doing shameful things like fighting. Using some form of “You are not a man” to provoke a fight or “Are you going to let them do that?” This is a shamless act from someone who feels of no value trying to bring others down to their level.

In evoled cultures shame can be used to prevent people from being shit works the other way with inbreds. Evoled cultures can even be shamed into allowing gay and biracial relationships, allowing foreigners into their country and exeriance guilt for shaming these things in the past.

What we experience as shameful is highly specific to our cultures, the PNAS study found that shame tracked closely with social devaluation in the US, India, and Israel for certain common scenarios. (Adultery, poor child-rearing, and theft, for example, are considered shameful across all three cultures.) There were, of course, exceptions. Eating with the left hand at a restaurant was more devalued in India—where it is seen as unsavory—than in the US.

By giving individuals a cue as to when their behavior will make them lose face, shame makes it less likely that they’ll be cast out and left to fend off bears and wolves on their own. Shame has its own functional adaptive logic.

Shame does provide us with an evolutionary advantage in helping us adhere to spoken and unspoken rules of society.



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