I am the Queen of guilt! I feel guilty about feeling so guilty all the time.
It’s a ridiculous, useless, nonproductive and misdirected emotion that I let take up way too much of my feelings. If someone has some guilt they don’t want, hand it over; I’ll give it a good home!
I know that carrying around all of this useless negative thinking and emotion isn’t right or healthy for me or for those that I care. So I was thrilled to read about some positive findings that a recent study found about people who tend to harbour guilty feelings. This, I just had to share.
It seems that people who are more prone to feeling guilt are better at reading other people’s emotions.
The guilt-prone were able to read all types of facial emotions better, tests in the new study revealed. They were particularly smart on relatively low-intensity feelings. Subtle facial expressions are (obviously) the most difficult to detect.
This is not the first time guilt has been linked to empathy, as the study’s authors explain:
“[there is] a large body of prior research linking guilt-proneness with an enhanced capacity for empathy as assessed by self-report and as well as theory suggesting that guilt and empathic perspective taking operate synergistically following interpersonal transgressions.” (Treeby et al., 2015).
Guilt-proneness tends to be indicative of psychological adjustment. It is also positively associated with effectively managing anger in constructive ways. Also, it appears to help inhibit hazardous and antisocial behaviours. In turn, it buffers individuals against the development of problematic substance use.
Overall, guilt seems to create a greater proclivity for engaging in relationship maintenance behaviours and having more highly developed interpersonal problem-solving skills.
To recap, the positive behaviours related to being guilt prone are:
- Having an enhanced ability to read facial emotions.
- Having the tendency to work to save relationships.
- Better interpersonal problem-solving skills.
- Offers higher psychological adjustment.
- Better at managing anger.
- Better at stopping risky behaviour.
- Better at avoiding substance abuse.
If you’re looking for a new partner and love interest, remember the following. When you meet someone who is somewhat guilt prone, grab them, and you may live happily ever after!
The study was published in the journal Cognition and Emotion (Treeby et al., 2015).