Social Emotions

A psychological perspective on vicarious embarrassment and shame in the context of cringe humor

Abstract Cringe humor combines the seemingly opposite emotional experiences of amusement and embarrassment due to others’ transgressions of norms. Psychological theories and empirical studies on these emotional reactions in response to others’ transgressions of social norms have mostly focused on embarrassment and shame. Here, we build on this literature, aiming to present a novel perspective …

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The neuroscience of social feelings: mechanisms of adaptive social functioning

Abstract Social feelings have conceptual and empirical connections with affect and emotion. In this review, we discuss how they relate to cognition, emotion, behavior and well-being. We examne the functional neuroanatomy and neurobiology of social feelings and their role in adaptive social functioning. Existing neuroscience literature is reviewed to identify concepts, methods and challenges that …

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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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