Guilt and Shame in Japan: Data Provided by the Thematic Apperception Test in Experimental Settings. by North American Journal of Psychology

Guilt and Shame in Japan: Data Provided by the Thematic Apperception Test in Experimental Settings.

By North American Journal of Psychology

  • Publication Date: 2006-03-01
  • Genre: Education

Book Synopsis

This article focuses on an analysis of forty-eight Thematic Apperception Test stories produced by Japanese university students. In order to investigate how the emotions of guilt and shame might influence the accuracy of polygraph testing, the TAT was used as an emotionally arousing stimulus for an experiment which produced two sets of data: TAT stories and polygraph charts. We observed that guilt was the prevalent emotion in the stories, contradicting the commonly held idea that Japan can be described as a shame-based culture in opposition to Western guilt-based cultures. The experiment (Thonney, Kanachi, Sasaki & Hatayama, 2004) that provided the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) stories analyzed in this article addressed the difficulty of replicating, in laboratory settings, the emotional states that are present during real polygraph interrogations. For the purposes of this paper, real polygraph investigations are to be defined as those where a real crime has been committed, a suspect is being interrogated in a police station or military base, and is facing charges and real consequences. Laboratory studies on lie-detection usually include a mock crime (Bradley & Cullen, 1993) of which the participants will be 'innocent' or 'responsible', and it is very difficult to expect the participants to experience genuine emotional states (e.g. guilt, shame, fear) given that the situation has been staged and there are no real consequences if the participants "fail" the test. Such studies have been criticized because of their lack of realism (Iacono, as cited in Bradley & Cullen, 1993; Lykken, as cited by Andreassi, 1995; Vrij, 2000). In our experimental design, we posited that the use of a projective test as a stimulus would induce emotional states which would become evident through the psycho-physiological arousal that they would provoke. Such a stimulus would produce a situation more emotionally truthful than a mock crime, given that those stories would be based on the subjects' own emotional experience.

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