Source: (2002) Theoretical Criminology. 6(3):339-360

There is disagreement about defining shame, guilt, and related emotions and about understanding the sources that cause these emotions and the social contexts in which they occur. Shame and guilt are difficult to interpret. Families of emotions must be considered; a specific emotion can be closely connected with other emotion types. Both shame and guilt imply a negative evaluation and are of a painful nature, which arises from moral failure. There are radically different views on the dynamics of emotions that unfold during restorative justice conferences. According to the theories of Moore, Scheff, and Retzinger, the practice of restorative justice conferences aims to redirect aggressive emotions and elicit shame and other hurt-revealing emotions that can lead to empathy. A problem connected with this approach is the lack of guilt feelings. According to Tangney, guilt is related to empathy and reparation, whereas shame tends towards avoidance or rejection of responsibility. This view that guilt is the more moral emotion seems to revoke the theory of reintegrative shaming. Guilt is an important aspect of the restorative process according to research done by the Braithwaite group. It is concluded that guilt has limited affect resonance possibilities, misses the other aspects of remorse, and does not seem to incite the offender to reconsider his or her identity. Remorse emerges as the emotion with the most reparative potential. It is doubtful that the old ideal of shaming can retain a place on the postmodern policy agenda. Shaming is not well suited to situations where verbal confrontation takes place after the offender admits guilt. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.