Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Shame and Embarrassment

Shame vs Embarrassment

The word shame is believed to have come from an ancient word meaning ‘to cover’. Consequently, shame literally means ‘covering oneself’. It is a human emotion which is almost beyond one’s control. Being aware or conscious of the condition of shame is known as having a ‘sense of shame’. This may be a direct result of the shameful experience or an embarrassing situation or disgrace. External factors like people may also exert shame on someone regardless of the person’s being aware of it or not. In a more common scenario, a state of shame can be assigned to someone, which is known as ‘to shame’, through actions or utterance. Also, ‘having shame’ does not mean being conscious of the state of shame, but rather it means to have some restraint against causing shame or offense to others and having no shame is basically having no restraint in shaming or offending others.

Embarrassment is an emotion that one goes through when he believes some action of his is not socially fitting. It involves a certain degree of loss of dignity, depending on the situation. Embarrassment and shame are very similar, but there are two distinct features; shame can arise from an individual act only known to oneself while that’s not the case with an embarrassment. Furthermore, embarrassment is a result of an act that may not be socially fitting even if it’s not morally wrong.

Many situations can lead to shame and embarrassment. Unlike shame, embarrassment is not always self caused but shame is almost always self caused, with the exception of situations where it is externally ‘assigned’. Embarrassment can be a very personal emotion, pertaining to someone’s personality as in cases which may merely be a result of unwanted attention or just too much of it, in someone’s private matters.

It is also possible to feel shameful and embarrassed at the same time, especially in situations for instance where one is caught giving false information or telling a lie about a known truth. However, in situations where a mistake is clearly made, there’s no shame but only an embarrassment. It is an embarrassment in some cultures to be seen nude or semi nude but this also does not necessarily cause shame. Some personalities especially those who are perfectionists, may have an affected mental condition due to an extreme fear of embarrassment.

1. Shame is a result of some socially unacceptable act while embarrassment results from a socially unfitting act which may not be morally wrong.
2. Shame does not depend on someone’s personality while embarrassment may depend on personality traits, like people who are very guarded about their personal lives.
3. Shame can result from an individual act unknown to others whereas an embarrassment is often as a result of others knowing of such act.

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