Social Emotions

Spinach in the teeth: How ego- and allocentric perspectives modulate neural correlates of embarrassment in the face of others’ public mishaps

Abstract Humans experience vicarious embarrassment when they observe other’s mishaps in public settings, even when the protagonist is not embarrassed at all. Though neural correlates of vicarious embarrassment have been studied before, it is yet poorly understood how they are influenced by egocentric or allocentric processes of perspective-taking. In the present study we examined the …

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Empathy in females with autism spectrum disorder

Abstract Objective: Despite the fact that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common psychiatric diagnosis, knowledge about the special behavioral and neurobiological female phenotype is still scarce. The present study aimed to investigate neural correlates of empathy for physical and social pain and to assess the impact of egocentric perspective taking on social pain empathy in …

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The politics of embarrassment: Considerations on how norm-transgressions of political representatives shape nation-wide communication of emotions on social media

Abstract In this article, we hypothesize, and then demonstrate, that experiences of embarrassment have significantly increased in the United States, due in part, to the current situation in American politics under President Donald Trump. We provide support for our hypothesis by conducting both qualitative and quantitative analyses of Twitter posts in the U.S. obtained from …

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The social neuroscience of interpersonal emotions

Abstract In our daily lives, we constantly engage in reciprocal interactions with other individuals and represent ourselves in the context of our surrounding social world. Within social interactions, humans often experience interpersonal emotions such as embarrassment, shame, guilt, or pride. How interpersonal emotions are processed on the neural systems level is of major interest for …

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Laugh or cringe? Common and distinct processes of reward-based schadenfreude and empathy-based fremdscham

Abstract Witnessing others’ plights can be funny for observers, but may also trigger one to empathically cringe with the victim of the predicament. In the present study, we examined the common and distinct neural networks involved in schadenfreude (i.e. pleasure derived from another’s misfortune) and fremdscham (i.e. empathically sharing the embarrassment about another’s misfortune). Using …

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Mindfulness meditation regulates anterior insula activity during empathy for social pain

Abstract Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, promote health, and well-being, as well as to increase compassionate behavior toward others. It reduces distress to one’s own painful experiences, going along with altered neural responses, by enhancing self-regulatory processes and decreasing emotional reactivity. In order to investigate if mindfulness similarly reduces distress and neural activations …

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Neural pathways of embarrassment and their modulation by social anxiety

Abstract While being in the center of attention and exposed to other’s evaluations humans are prone to experience embarrassment. To characterize the neural underpinnings of such aversive moments, we induced genuine experiences of embarrassment during person-group interactions in a functional neuroimaging study. Using a mock-up scenario with three confederates, we examined how the presence of …

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When your friends make you cringe: social closeness modulates vicarious embarrassment-related neural activity

Abstract Social closeness is a potent moderator of vicarious affect and specifically vicarious embarrassment. The neural pathways of how social closeness to another person affects our experience of vicarious embarrassment for the other’s public flaws, failures and norm violations are yet unknown. To bridge this gap, we examined the neural response of participants while witnessing …

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Mentalizing and the role of the posterior superior temporal sulcus in sharing others’ embarrassment

Abstract The experience of embarrassment provides a highly salient cue for the human moral apparatus. Interestingly, people also experience embarrassment on behalf of others’ inappropriate conditions. The perceiver’s embarrassment often lacks an equivalent expression of embarrassment in the social counterpart. The present study examines this phenomenon and distinguishes neural circuits involved in embarrassment with and …

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