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Research Article - (2016) Volume 1, Issue 3

Development of a Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale for Prisoners in the Philippine Context

Mariel Kristine T Rubia*
Department of Psychology, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
*Corresponding Author: Mariel Kristine T Rubia, Human Resource Management Program, DLSU-College of St. Benilde, Manila, Philippines, Tel: 63 046 9722075 Email:


The article chronicles the development of a specialized instrument which measures crime-related shame and guilt in the Philippine setting. The definition of shame and guilt were primarily based on the theory of Helen Block Lewis and validated locally through interviews with prison inmates and experts in the field of forensic psychology such as psychologists, lawyers and judges. Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) is a test development project for prisoners conducted in five major phases. In Phase 1, content domain construction and item generation was done. Phase 2 involves forward and backward translation of the tool. In Phase 3, the preliminary form was administered to 393 respondents from the medium security division of the New Bilibid Prison and the Correctional Institution for Women in the Philippines. Item analysis was done to remove poor items. Coefficient alpha was used to establish the initial reliability. In Phase 4, final construct validation via internal structure and consistency was done by administering the final form to 723 inmate respondents to establish and strengthen its psychometric properties. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used in refining the scale. Revisions were made and the reliability of the test was also analyzed and computed. In Phase 5, the norms for each factor in the scale were standardized and established. The CRSGS was found to be psychometrically valid and reliable for measuring the level of shame and guilt in prisoners. It can be used by therapists, law enforcers, lawyers, judges, and prison institutions.


Emotions such as shame and guilt are common sequels to traumatic events such as committing a crime or an offense [1] and may affect the behavior of offenders in their later lives. As moral emotions, shame and guilt are among our most personal experiences.

In the face of revealed wrongdoings, people tend to turn on themselves, assessing and rendering a verdict on their own actions. In this way, experiencing shame and guilt can direct our behavior and affect the way we see ourselves [2]. These same feelings of shame and guilt can also affect our most basic relationships with family and other key people in our lives. As we flourish and grow, these emotions may continue to influence our behavior in interpersonal contexts.

Guilt and shame are two distinct emotions that are often associated with the emotional response of a person to an offense. These emotions differ in their effects on the behavior of offenders [1]. Guilt involves a sense of remorse and regret over some specific behavior done or not done by the offender [3]. Usually it involves obsession to thoughts about a specific act of transgression and the wish that somehow it could be undone. Guilt also facilitates confession [4].

Shame, on the other hand, extends beyond the ‘bad behavior’ to reflect a defective objectionable self [5]. A person who experiences shame often experiences feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness [3]. Contrary to guilt, shame impedes confession [4] and it is often noted that guilt focuses on specific behavior while shame involves focusing on the global self [6]. Furthermore, guilt appears to promote reparative action while shame prompts people to hide their ‘defective self ’ [3].

Based on a study of responses from males and females in two jails in the Phillipines, this paper describes the development of a Crime- Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) assessment tool that is expected to be useful in providing mental health support during prisoner rehabilitation programs.

Guilt, shame and self-image

Proposing a highly influential distinction between shame and guilt [2], Helen Block Lewis, a clinical psychologist at Yale University, observes that the key difference between shame and guilt centers on the role of the self in these experiences. According to Lewis, “The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation” [5]. Shame is an acutely painful emotion accompanied by a sense of shrinking or of “being small” and by a sense of worthlessness and powerlessness [5]. Shamed people also feel exposed. Although shame does not necessarily involve an actual observing audience that is present to witness one’s shortcomings, there is often the imagery of how one’s defective self would appear to others [2]. In shame, the self is both an agent and object of observation and disapproval, which is also known as the “split in self functioning”. Shame often leads to a desire to escape or to hide [2].

At the same time, according to Lewis, “in guilt, the self is negatively evaluated in connection with something but is not itself the focus of the experience [5]”. Guilt is a typically less painful and devastating experience compared to shame [5] because in guilt, the person’s primary concern is with the particular behavior which is apart from the self. Thus, guilt does not affect one’s self-concept. Guilt feelings involve a sense of tension, remorse, and regret over the bad thing done. People in the midst of a guilt experience often report a preoccupation with the transgression, wishing that they had behaved differently or somehow could undo the deed [5].

Related studies indicate that guilt and shame differs not so much in the content of the situation that produces them, but rather in the manner in which people interpret self-relevant negative events. Shame involves fairly global negative evaluations of the self (i.e., “Who I am”) while guilt involves a more articulated condemnation of a specific behavior (i.e., “What I did”) [2].

Recent studies continue to emphasize the importance of shame and guilt, particularly in relation to inmate behavior. Tangney et al. [7] conducted a study of US jail inmates on the “presumed function of shame as an inhibitor of immoral or illegal behavior” [7]. The results showed that shame “may have two faces-one with destructive potential and the other with constructive potential”.

Shame and guilt also have its neurobiological underpinnings, based on a study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) [8]. In shame, the front and temporal areas of the brain were responsive in both genders. In guilt, “women only activate temporal regions, whereas men showed additional frontal and occipital activation as well as a responsive amygdala”. The results indicate some shared neural networks in shame and guilt as well as its own “individual areas of activation”.

Assessing guilt and shame

Shame and guilt are internal affective states that are difficult, if not impossible, to assess directly. However, a dramatic increase in empirical studies of shame and guilt happened in large part due to the recent development of new measures [2]. These can be classified into two broad categories: (1) those which assess emotional states (e.g., feelings of shame and guilt at the moment) and (2) those which assess emotional traits or dispositions (e.g., shame-proneness and guiltproneness) [2]. Far more effort has been devoted to the development of dispositional measures.

Although most people have a capacity to experience both emotions at various points in their lives, there are differences in the degree to which people are prone to experience shame and/or guilt across a range of situations involving failures or transgressions [2].

Most of the existing measures for shame and guilt do not take into consideration the difference between the two emotions. Consequently, the scales end up confounding the two emotions and so are of little use in examining the differential roles of shame and guilt in various aspects of psychological and social functioning [2]. For example, the Buss-Durkee Guilt Scale [9] includes such items as “I sometimes have bad thoughts which make me feel ashamed of myself ” and “I often feel that I have not lived the right kind of life”. Another example is the Mosher Forced-Choice Guilt Inventory [10] which includes such items as “I detest myself for… (a) my sins and failures, vs . (b) not having more exciting sexual experiences” and “If I felt like murdering someone…(a) I would be ashamed of myself, vs . (b) I would try to commit the perfect crime”. Furthermore, three of the most heavily weighted guilt adjectives on the G-Trait scale of the Perceived Guilt Index (PGI) [11] are “Disgraceful,” “Degraded” and “Marred,” items which more clearly suggest experiences of shame than guilt [2]. The Trait Guilt Scale [12] is the only one which involved some explicit effort to take into account the distinction between shame and guilt [2].

Confounding shame and guilt produces misleading test results [2]. Some studies also show that when the constructs of shame and guilt are correctly distinguished from one another, in most instances, they show very different relationships to many other aspects of psychological adjustment and social behavior including psychological symptoms, narcissism, sociopathy, interpersonal empathy, anger, aggression, constructive anger management strategies, and aspects of interpersonal perception [13-15].

Some of the most promising measures for guilt and/or shame include the Personal Feelings Questionnaires-2 (PFQ-2) [16], Guilt Inventory (GI) [12], and the Test of Self-Conscious Affect (TOSCA) [17]. However, reviews of these measures indicate their inadequacies in terms of their conceptual and methodological grounds [2,18]. For example, the Personal Feelings Questionnaire (PFQ) relies heavily on the respondents’ ability to distinguish between the terms “shame” and “guilt” in an abstract context. Specifically, in the case of PFQ-2, two of the three guilt items make use of the term “guilt” (e.g., “mild guilt” and “intense guilt”) and considering that this has good face validity, it remained questionable in terms of the frequency of guilt experiences as conceptually independent of shame experiences using this global adjective checklist method.

Studies have shown that even well-educated adults have difficulty providing meaningful definitions of shame and guilt in the abstract [19,20]. Moreover, when both shame and guilt are evoked by the same event, the two states tend to fuse with each other and are then typically labeled “guilt” [5].

The most problematic aspect of the global adjective approach is that it poses respondents with a shame-like task-that of making global ratings about the self (or the self ’s general affective state) in the absence of any specific situational context [21].

The Guilt Inventory (GI) does not contain a scale that specifically measures shame-proneness. However, the GI Trait Scale, although meant to be un-confounded with shame, nonetheless contains a few items that, depending on the emotional statement of the respondent, could be reflective of shame (e.g., “Frequently, I just hate myself for something I have done”) [21]. On the other hand, in terms of using the results from TOSCA, shame, or shame “fused” with guilt, is the selfconscious emotion most responsible for the development of symptoms of psychopathology. Conversely, the expression of guilt-proneness by itself is seen as an adaptive emotion [21]. Miller [22] supports this review of TOSCA, suggesting that shame may lead to maladaptive selffunctioning while guilt-prone persons were more likely than shameprone persons to have an information-oriented identity that focused on gaining pro-active responses toward seeking adaptive life-skills.

In reviewing these findings, two problems are encountered. First, the chronic and destructive aspects of guilt which clinicians so frequently allude to and which have been identified as symptomatic of anxiety disorders or major depression were ignored [12,16,23]. For instance, one of the criteria for diagnosing a major depressive disorder refers to reported “feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt…nearly every day” and/or “guilty preoccupations or ruminations over minor past failings and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for untoward events” [24].

In summary, previous efforts to assess guilt and shame have tended to exaggerate their effect wherein they overpathologize. They would immediately connect the test results to mental disorders. Moreover, previous studies did not focus on prisoners as its subject. While there was an existing study about prisoners’ guilt and shame, it is not applicable to the Philippines because of the cultural differences.

The present study

The present study seeks to develop, validate and standardize a Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) assessment tool suitable for measuring the severity of shame and guilt level of prisoners. The CRSGS can serve as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in identifying the level of shame and guilt of an offender through its assessment process help law enforcers, lawyers and judges ascertain and investigate the relevance of guilt and shame in relation to admission and denials about the crime attached to these offenders and for psychologists to assess the offenders’ treatment needs and evaluate the treatment outcomes.

It is anticipated that the CRSGS might be further developed to serve as a prerequisite tool in creating an intervention program for offenders, thus helping the organizers of the program (government agencies, private sectors, and organizations working with these offenders) to design a more thorough, well-planned and holistic program for the prisoners. Data gathered from the results of the study will also provide an objective and informative guide to social workers, government officials, community organizers, NGO workers, counselors, lawyers, judges and other professionals working with prisoners which will enable them to better understand and support these offenders.

The creation of the crime-related shame and guilt scale differs from existing measures by specifically addressing their inadequacies, particularly the adoption of a clear definition for and distinction between shame and guilt. The setting of this present study is in the Philippines where there is a lack of a tool on the subject. Foreigndeveloped tests that are sometimes borrowed or adapted in the Philippines may have inappropriate concepts and theories, taking into account the cultural differences [25]. The CRSGS in the Philippine context contributes to the progress that has been reported in test development, from validation studies to construction of indigenous instruments for Filipinos.

The filipino perspective on guilt and shame

Filipino anthropologist Jocano [26] defines hiya (shame) as a painful feeling of having done something wrong; a form of politeness, embarrassment, shame, humiliation [26]. It is a most popular and emotionally-charged norm which is often mistaken for a value in Filipino culture. As a rule, shame is often invoked to effect conformity to local mores and practices in order to prevent unnecessary embarrassment, or conflict. Among Filipinos, hiya is not just particularly about relationships, but also concerned with feelings. Some foreign observers view hiya as “concealed dishonesty” because “Filipinos do not openly express their real reactions to almost anything-that is, whether they agree or disagree with you... They do not tell you exactly what they think or how they feel-they just remain silent and you have to read their true feelings in the way they smile”.

Filipino psychologist Bulatao [27] defines hiya (shame) as a painful emotion arising from a relationship with an authority figure or with society, inhibiting self-assertion in a situation which is perceived as dangerous to one’s ego. It is a kind of anxiety, a fear of being left exposed, unprotected, and unaccepted. It is a fear of abandonment, of “loss of soul,” a loss not only of one’s possessions or even of one’s life, but of something perceived as more valuable than life itself, namely, the ego, the self.

Hiya is sociosyntonic, i.e., it is not only accepted by the Philippine society but is positively taught by it. It is of interest that in the Peace Corps workshop on hiya, the American Peace Corps volunteers looked at hiya as a problem while the Filipino teachers considered it as the most natural thing in the world.

Also, in the theory of hiya, the configuration of personality that predisposes one to react readily with hiya is the unindividuated ego. This is because the unindividuated ego finds its security not within itself but within the group to which it is bound; it dares not let go of that group’s approval. Furthermore, it dares not assert itself independently of the group for fear that it will fail and thus incur the group’s “We told you so.” It will be sensitive to what people in authority have to say about it. It will be shy and timid. It will be “mahiyain” [27].

Guilt for the Filipino, on the other hand, is the consciousness that one has done moral wrong and is outside the concept of hiya [27]. For example, when a girl is revealed as having committed a socially unacceptable act by eating peanuts in class, the guilt is over the wrong done but the hiya is the revelation itself. In some foreign sources such as the theory of Weiss [28], guilt when used in exaggeration can be of survivor guilt, separation guilt, or omnipotent responsibility guilt. These concepts of guilt can be closely linked to the Filipinos’ supportive norms such as pakikisama (fellowship) and pakikiramay (sympathy) [26], which are related to omnipotent responsibility guilt and survivor guilt. The norm on close family ties is related to separation guilt and, if overused, may lead to psychopathology.

Filipino educator Agapay [29] defined guilt in relation to conscience wherein conscience is a “practical judgment” because it is an inference whose conclusion leads to something practicable. The main function of conscience is to determine what ought to be done in a given situation. After the commission of an act, conscience assumes the role of approving or reproaching. A reproving conscience is called guilty conscience. These definitions of shame and guilt by Lewis, Tangney and Dearing and in the Filipino context are summarized in the conceptual framework of the present study as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Conceptual framework of crime-related shame and guilt scale for prisoners.

Materials and Methods


Male inmates from the medium security division of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and female inmates from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Metro Manila, Philippines were recruited for the study. From these two groups, purposive sampling was done for each developmental stage of the present study. Pilot testing was conducted on 30 respondent inmates before the test was administered to the actual participants of the study. There were 393 inmates for the preliminary form (dry run), 732 for the polished form, and 400 inmates for the norming. Respondents were selected based on the following criteria: (1) they have the ability to understand, read or write English or Tagalog; (2) they are in their right minds and not suffering from any brain disorders at the time the test will be administered and; (3) they are 20 years old and above.

Research instruments

The Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) was constructed as an applied Likert-type scale.

The author used personal data sheets, unstructured interviews, experts’ evaluation forms and the constructed scale. The personal data sheet contains the demographic profile of the respondents. The unstructured interviews were conducted to obtain clarifications on the results from the respondents.

The experts’ evaluation form guided the experts in judging the items of the scale. The scale as validated by experts was used in the dry run stage up to the final stage to selected sample size from the two selected operating prisons.

The theories of Lewis, Tangney, Dearing, Weiss, and Modell as well as the local theories of Bulatao, Agapay, and Jocano form the basis of the framework of the study. An overview of the procedural steps in constructing the scale is provided in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Methodology in constructing the crime-related shame and guilt scale.


Phase 1: Content domain construction and item generation: A thorough documentary analysis, specifically the review of related literature, was done in order to develop well-defined constructs, unconfounded domains, and relevant item pools.

Then preliminary interviews were completed with 35 Filipino inmates to gather data on how they define and understand guilt and shame. On the basis of these interviews, it was postulated that the prisoners’ point of view on guilt is similar to how it was defined by many of the foreign sources. For example, some statements from the interview show that guilt for Filipino prisoners can be remedied by punishment, which affirms Strickland’s conceptualization of guilt [30]. Guilt can also be healed by forgiveness, a transformative justice or sincere remorse which can be in the form of confession in Catholicism or restorative justice [30].

Some of the Filipino inmates tend to remedy their guilt feelings in terms of intellectualization or cognition, which we can associate with the Strickland theory wherein the source of guilt feelings was illogical or irrelevant [30]. In addition, interviews about shame and guilt were also conducted with resource persons and experts working closely with prisoners in the Philippines.

The factors composing the scale were based on the theory of Helen Block Lewis and verified in the Philippine setting through the preliminary interviews with prison inmates and experts. Once the test items were written, five experts were given a checklist evaluation form to assess the degree to which the items “represent” the component’s definition and coverage. The experts were chosen according to the following requirements: (1) familiarity with clinical and legal terms concerning the prisoners and the crimes they have committed; (2) knowledge of test construction; and (3) must at least be a practicing clinical psychologist or psychologist that has been dealing with prisoners. Items that have a high inter-rater agreement were retained in the test.

In terms of content validity, the five raters provided substantial agreement on the majority of the factors for shame and guilt wherein items under each factor have sufficient understandability and clarity. The first draft of the CRSGS is composed of four factors for shame and four factors for guilt with 100 items.

To adequately evaluate the test’s face validity, feedback from these five experts was also considered to refine the test items. The initial draft of the instrument was then administered to 30 inmate respondents for pilot testing. The inmates were likewise interviewed on how they perceived the appropriateness of the test items and if these were easy to understand.

Phase 2: Translation of the crime-related shame and guilt scale: One version of the scale with test questions in both English and Tagalog served as a flexible tool for prisoners who are fluent in Tagalog and prisoners who are well versed in English.

The present study utilized forward and backward approaches to translation. The translators were selected based on the following characteristics: (1) he/she must be proficient in both English and Tagalog; (2) he/she must be familiar with psychological and clinical terms; (3) and he/she must at least be familiar with concepts used in test development. Forward translation was done by obtaining more than one independent translation of the instrument from English to two (2) independent translations in Tagalog. Upon gathering the translations of two (2) independent translators, another independent translator along with the researcher conducted an item to item comparison and analysis. Afterwards, backward translations were done wherein the test translated from English to Tagalog was translated back to English by two translators.

The different back-translations of each language also underwent an item by item comparison and analysis. To be sure that the English version of the scale is psychometrically as good as its Tagalog version, the Pearson correlation was used wherein a significant correlation between the two versions of the scale was obtained. A positive correlation was obtained at 0.05 coefficient value.

Phase 3: Dry run stage: The preliminary form of the scale was administered to 393 inmates for initial validation and item trimming. Item analysis was done to remove poor items. Initial item reliability was also conducted using Cronbach alpha. There are 52 items in total for shame and 48 items in total for guilt.

As a measure of scale internal consistency, Cronbach Coefficient Alpha essentially calculates the average value of all possible split-half reliabilities. Reliability coefficients values for shame ranged from 0.80 to 0.88.

Reliability coefficient values for guilt ranged from 0.81 to 0.92. Given these findings, it can be said that the factors in the initial form of the instrument had sufficient homogeneity which indicates that tttthe items in the subscale measure the same construct or characteristic.

Phase 4: Final construct validation via internal structure and consistency: The final form of the CRSGS was administered to seven hundred twenty-three (723) inmates. Below are excerpts of the test items of the scale wherein respondents were asked to rate the degree by which they felt or experienced a particular situation as 1 for “not likely,” 2 for “somewhat likely,” 3 for “likely,” and 4 for “very likely”.


Maladaptive shame that leads to depression and social phobia

1. I think that others see me as the worst person that ever existed.

(Sa palagay ko ang tingin ng ibang tao sa akin ay ako na ang pinakamalalang taong nabuhay.)

2. I think that I am the worst person that ever existed.

(Sa tingin ko, ako na ang pinakamalalang taong nabuhay.)

Actual experience and level of agony

8. I don’t deserve to live.

(Hindi ako nararapat na mabuhay.)

9. I am so bad, I wanted to die.

(Masama akong tao, nais ko nang mamatay.)

Counterfactual thinking

14. If only I am more influential, people would look at me differently.

(Kung maimpluwensya lamang ako, iba ang magiging tingin ng mga tao sa akin.)

15. If only I am rich, I would be treated differently.

(Kung mayaman lamang ako, iba ang magiging pakikitungo sa akin.)

Maladaptive shame that leads to aggression and withdrawal

18. It makes me enraged when I am criticized in front of others. (Galit na galit ako kapag binabatikos ako sa harap ng ibang tao.)

19. I immediately got mad upon knowing that I am convicted. (Nagalit agad ako nang malaman kong nahatulan ako.)

Tendency to give-up hope

22. There is no way for me to make-up or compensate for my wrongdoings.

(Nagalit agad ako nang malaman kong nahatulan ako.)


Focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed

24. I feel like confessing my bad behavior. (Parang gusto kong aminin ang masamang asal ko.)

25. I feel unhappy for what I have done. (Hindi ako masaya sa aking ginawa.)

Counterfactual thinking

31. I should have recognized the problem earlier. (Sana ay mas nakita ko nang maaga ang problema.)

32. I should have thought about how the people I left would feel knowing that I am inside the jail.

(Naisip ko sana ang madarama ng mga taong iniwan ko nang malaman nilang makukulong ako.)

Actual experience and level of agony

37. Some people will understand why I did the crime. (Maiintindihan ng ibang tao kung bakit ko nagawa ang krimen.)

38. It is just right that I was arrested for violating the law.

(Makatarungan lamang na naaresto ako dahil sa aking paglabag sa batas.)

Omnipotent responsibility guilt

42. It is very hard for me to make decisions especially if it will affect other people. (Napakahirap para sa akin ang magdesisyon lalo na kung makakaapekto ito sa ibang tao.)

43. I constantly think that I am really a sinner thus I feel the need to pray and ask for forgiveness every day.

(Lagi kong naiisip na ako ay makasalanan kaya nararamdaman ko na dapat akong magdasal at humingi ng tawad sa Diyos araw araw.)

Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used in refining the scale and examining the initial factor structure. Revisions from the test were incorporated in this stage and the respondents’ criteria for selection remained the same as the initial validation stage. Reliability of the test was also analyzed and computed.

The socio-demographic profile of the 723 inmates is summarized as follows. The majority of the respondents were aged between 30-39 years old with the following characteristics: male, single, Roman Catholic reached high school level and were from the New Bilibid Prison. Most of the inmates were serving sentences of 10-19 years and the majority had served from 1-9 years of their sentence, were principal offenders, were convicted of a crime once, and had committed crimes against person.

Construct validity is the validation of the theory or concept behind the test. It involves discovering positive correlations between and among the variables or constructs that define the concept. We undertook factor analysis to establish the construct validity of the test. As Zygmont and Smith have observed, in the process of construct validation, it is important first to conduct the data screening before performing the factor analysis [31].

The KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin index) measure of sampling adequacy for shame and guilt scale was 0.88 and 0.92, which indicates the present data were suitable for Principal Component Analysis (PCA).

Similarly, Bartlett’s test of sphericity for shame and guilt scale was significant (p<0.001) indicating that the correlation matrix is not an identity matrix. However, the determinant coefficient for both shame and guilt scale (shame=6.26 E-011; guilt=4.62 E-012) are lower than the criteria of 0.00001 so it signifies that there is a possibility of multicollinearity, meaning one item is highly correlated with other items. Analysis of the correlation matrix indicate no correlation coefficient greater than 0.90, meaning no possibility for multicollinearity.

The range of the correlation for shame scale was -0.10 to 0.74 while in the guilt scale, the correlation coefficient ranged from -0.18 to 0.77. The determinant, KMO and Bartlett’s test for the retained shame and guilt scale, has met the requirement. Also, the Measure of Sampling Adequacy (MSA) of CRSGS has no coefficient lower than 0.50. Hence, factor analysis for this data was considered to be appropriate.

Using the Kaiser-Guttman Retention Criterion of eigenvalues greater than 1, a 6-factor solution for shame and a 5-factor solution for guilt provided the clearest extraction. The six factors for shame accounted for 59.14% of the total variance. The five factors for guilt accounted for 61.68% of the total variance.

The reliability of any test may be determined by the test’s inter-item consistency through the coefficient alpha. Inter-item consistency refers to the respondents’ adherence to his/her responses throughout the test.

The final form of the instrument was found to be reliable. For shame, reliability ranges from 0.69 to 0.86. When the reliability coefficients were established, from six factors of shame, it was reduced to five factors, as a result of which factor 5 was deleted due to low reliability.

However, maladaptive shame that leads to aggression and withdrawal was not deleted although it has a 0.69 reliability coefficient because based on both theory and research, shame may not only motivate avoidant behavior but also motivates feelings of anger and hostility [2]. For guilt, the reliability ranges from 0.70 to 0.86. When the reliability coefficients were arrived at, from five factors of guilt, it was reduced to four factors by which factor 5 was deleted due to low reliability.

The 43-item polished form of the CRSGS is composed of five factors for shame and four factors for guilt as seen in Table 1.

Factor No. Final Name of Component Item Numbers Total Items %
1 Maladaptive shame that leads to depression and social phobia 79, 78, 76, 80, 75, 85, 82 7 30.43
2 Actual experience and level of agony 33, 30, 31, 34, 32, 35 6 26.09
3 Counterfactual thinking 55, 53, 51, 54 4 17.39
4 Maladaptive shame that leads to aggression and withdrawal 86, 87, 83, 84 4 17.39
5 Tendency to
give up hope
37, 38 2 9.00
Total     23 100
1 Focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed 22, 21, 20, 18, 19, 25, 14 7 35
2 Counterfactual thinking 68, 67, 65, 71, 73, 62 6 30
3 Actual experience and level of agony 41, 39, 40, 43, 44 5 25
4 Omnipotent responsibility guilt and guilt that leads to obsessive compulsive disorder 99, 100 2 10
Total     20 100

Table 1: Item pool of the polished form of CRSGS.

The overall mean score and standard deviation values of each dimension of Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale for prisoners in its final form are provided in Table 2.

Variables No. Factors Mean Standard Deviation Verbal Interpretation
Shame 1 Maladaptive Shame that Leads to Depression and Social Phobia 1.84 0.68 Somewhat Likely
2 Actual Experience and Level of Agony 1.54 0.67 Not Likely
3 Counterfactual Thinking 2.39 0.90 Somewhat Likely
4 Maladaptive Shame that Leads to Aggression and Withdrawal 1.95 0.74 Somewhat Likely
5 Tendency to Give Up Hope 1.62 0.81 Not Likely
Guilt 1 Focus of Analysis and Positive Motivation Displayed 2.80 0.84 Likely
2 Counterfactual Thinking 2.68 0.91 Likely
3 Actual Experience and Level of Agony 2.76 0.90 Likely
4 Omnipotent Responsibility Guilt and Guilt that Leads to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 2.93 0.96 Likely

Table 2: Mean scores and standard deviation values in the Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) in its final form.

Phase 5 norming

The method on how the test was administered was finalized in this phase. For the norming, a total number of 400 inmate respondents composed the standardization sample. The computation of the mean, standard deviation, Z scores and T scores were used in order to come up with norms. The resulting tables presented a summary of normative data of the extracted dimensions of the Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) for prisoners. In the norms for the shame scale, the verbal interpretation for “shame manifested to a very great extent” is equivalent to scores ranging from 23-24 for factor 2 (Actual Experience and Level of Agony). In the norms for the guilt scale, the item “guilt manifested to a great extent” has scores ranging from 25-28 for factor 1 (Focus of Analysis, Regard for the "Other" and Impetus Displayed), scores ranging from 22-24 for factor 2 (Actual Experience and Level of Agony), scores ranging from 19-20 for factor 3 (Counterfactual Thinking), and a score of 8 for factor 4 (Maladaptive Guilt).

Implications for each verbal interpretation of shame

Main features in the verbal interpretations of shame include a) predisposition to psychopathological disorders (depression, social phobia, aggression and withdrawal); b) level of agony or distress; c) tendency to counterfactualize; and d) propensity to give up hope. These features are experienced from a very great extent to great, moderately high, moderate degrees, slight or not at all.

Implications for each verbal interpretation of guilt

Main features in the manifestation of guilt include a) focus of analysis centers on the person’s behavior; b) tendency to counterfactualize; c) evidence of positive motivations such as to repair, apologize and confess; and d) predisposition to anxiety disorders (such as obsessive compulsive disorder). These features may be experienced from a very great extent to great, moderately high, and moderate degrees. However, the level of agony is lower when guilt is experienced in higher degrees. But as the feeling of guilt is barely experienced or not at all, the level of agony increases.

Results and Discussion

The purpose of the study was to develop a Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale (CRSGS) specifically for prisoners in the Philippine setting. Based on the results, respondents (inmates) were likely to experience guilt emotions in all the dimensions under guilt of the CRSGS. On the other hand, in terms of shame, the majority of the respondents shared the same likelihood to counterfactualize in terms of shame and to predispose themselves to maladaptive shame that may lead to psychopathology. In terms of actual experience and level of agony, as well as tendency to give up hope under shame, results showed that the prisoners were not likely to experience these dimensions under shame. Most of the inmates garnered high scores in terms of their level of experience in guilt as compared to shame.

Extracted factors of the Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale for prisoners were examined to determine if there was a significant difference among the respondents when grouped according to their socio-demographic profile.

Significant differences according to age

This study found no significant difference in the components of the scale when grouped according to the prisoners’ age. However, a significant difference was found in counterfactual thinking under shame and focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed as well as actual experience and level of agony under guilt. In shame, counterfactual thinking is mentally undoing some aspects of the self [2] and given this, those who are classified under young adults and middle adult prisoners may wish to undo some aspects of the self. In that going back to the time they committed the crime, they were more likely to consider themselves to have been young and impulsive thus, limiting them from more adaptive responses to situations.

On the other hand, based on interviews, the older prisoners or those who are in their late adulthood tended to have accepted their fate considering their age and seemed less likely to engage anymore in counterfactual thinking. Some old prisoners may also tend not to counterfactualize anymore thinking that their lives have been changed for the better while they are inside the jail. In terms of focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed under guilt, a significant difference occurs because those who are old prisoners may have a less positive outlook and/or motivational features considering that majority of them responded that by the time they receive their parole, they will be too old already that even if they are already allowed to go home to their families, some of their family members might have died already or if not, could no longer be located due to transfer of residence.

In terms of employment and acceptance, most of the older prisoners were not very positive about how the society would treat them the moment they get out of jail. On the other hand, younger prisoners tended to display higher focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed because they themselves, given their age, are looking forward to be reunited again with their loved ones once they get out of prison.

In connection to guilt being generally less painful than shame [2], some of the inmates interviewed for the study regarding how much agony they felt about their situation inside the jail claimed that being inside the jail is no longer agonizing because they are given certain privileges there-like being able to study, finding their true friends and learning about God. Also, they said that their stay inside the jail is just commensurate to the crime they committed.

Significant differences according to gender

When grouped according to gender, there was no significant difference in the components of the scale. However, a significant difference was found in counterfactual thinking under shame, focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed as well as actual experience and level of agony under guilt.

In Western cultures, studies suggest that men and women have differing experiences of shame [32] and that women are more likely to use shame as a means of organizing information about the self. In Asian countries, shame is also said to be more experienced by women than men. Responses are seen to vary as well: while women tend to experience greater depression as a result of shame, men tend to experience greater rage [33]. This is in keeping with the observation of greater aggressiveness in males [34]. In his study of violence, Gilligan [35] concluded that the higher levels of male violence are a result of differing socialization of males and females, not a genetic or hormonal difference. In the present study, men have a higher probability to counterfactualize under shame than women but with only a very minimal difference. One of the reasons for this may be that the ratio of female prisoners in the medium security division is smaller compared to the male prisoners in the medium security division. In terms of factor 1 (Focus of Analysis and Positive Motivation Displayed) and factor 3 (Actual Experience and Level of Agony) under guilt, men appear to have a higher guilt experience compared with women because women are more prone to shameful emotions.

Significant differences according to civil status, religion and education

This scale measures the level of shame and guilt regardless of the civil status, which implies that the level of shame and guilt among prisoners is not affected by a person’s civil status. In terms of religion, no significant difference was found.

Likewise, the scale measures the level of guilt and shame regardless of the educational attainment. An exception is counterfactual thinking under guilt where a significant difference occurs. Prisoners who have finished their college education tend to counterfactualize more in terms of their behavior. Given this data, although cognitive ability does not seem to matter and nearly everyone is able to generate counterfactuals flexibly and creatively regardless of intelligence or verbal skills [36], still in this particular study, a significant difference seems to be apparent. Those who are college graduates tend to counterfactualize more because given their educational attainment, they have more opportunities outside the prison compared to those who are less educated, thus they have the more regrets. Moreover, most of the prisoners (both male and female) who did not finish their schooling claim that their life inside the jail is even better considering that they were given a chance to study inside.

Significant differences according to prison location

In terms of prison location, a significant difference occurs in counterfactual thinking under shame, and focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed as well as actual experience and level of agony under guilt. Based on interviews with prison officers, prison wardens and the prisoners themselves, one reason is that the environment inside the New Bilibid Prison is different from the environment inside the Correctional Institute for Women. The prisoners in New Bilibid, given their huge numbers, are congested so they live uncomfortably inside the jail. On the other hand, though the Correctional is a little congested, the place is clean and wellmaintained.

Significant differences according to number of years needed to serve sentence

The scale measures the level of shame and guilt regardless of the number of years needed to serve sentence except for factor 1 (Focus of Analysis and Positive Motivation Displayed) and factor 3 (Actual Experience and Level of Agony) under guilt. In factor 1 under guilt, most of the prisoners who need to serve their sentence for the longest period of time elicit high focus of analysis in terms of their behavior and high positive motivational features displayed such as tendency to confess, apologize or repair. On the other hand, those who were given a shorter sentence tend to have lower focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed. Based on interviews, one of the main reasons for these results is that prisoners with heavier sentence and longer sentence will be forced to behave and display positive motivation so that their sentence will be lifted to a less grave sentence or to transform the number of times needed to serve sentence into a shorter period of time.

Significant differences according to length of time sentence was served and gravity of offense

The scale measures the level of shame and guilt regardless of the length of time sentence was served. This implies that the level of shame and guilt is not affected by the length of time the sentence was served.

When grouped according to respondents’ gravity of offense, a significant difference occurs in terms of counterfactual thinking for both shame and guilt, focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed under guilt and actual experience and level of agony under guilt. This may be attributed to principal offenders having been those who take direct part in the execution of the crime and those who force or induce others to commit it [37], may attribute the blame directly to themselves thus counterfactual thinking is directed to the self as compared to those who are accessories to the crime by which they may attribute the blame directly to the thing done considering that those accessories to the crime are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its commission [37]. In terms of focus of analysis and positive motivation displayed, the level of guilt is high for the principal offenders as compared to the accomplice and accessories to the crime because those who are considered to be principal offenders have graver penalties, therefore making them resolve to be in good behavior in order to lessen the penalty imposed by the court. In terms of actual experience and level of agony, the principal offenders got the highest scores because among the three kinds of participation to the crime, the principal is considered to have the gravest penalty thus putting them in a more dreadful situation.

Significant differences according to number of times convicted of a crime

The scale measures the level of shame and guilt regardless of the number of times convicted of a crime. This implies that the level of shame and guilt among prisoners is not affected by the number times they were convicted of a crime.

Significant differences according to crimes committed

The scale measures the level of shame and guilt regardless of the crimes committed except for factors 2 (Counterfactual Thinking) and 4 (Omnipotent Responsibility Guilt and Guilt that Leads to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) under guilt. A significant difference was arrived at in factor 2 under guilt because most of the people who committed crimes involving public interest are those that are educated and in fact a great number of them reached college level. After commission of the crime, they look back and would attribute their having committed the crime to factors where they could have otherwise controlled their behavior had it not for the strong influence of temptation from other persons and exposure to material things. Whereas in crimes against chastity and person, the compelling force comes from the self and not so much influenced by external factors. For instance, in rape cases, the compulsion is the desire to satisfy lust which is innate in a person who is not well educated. Also, in murder cases, it is the self that finally decides to commit crime-maybe to vindicate one’s self or close relatives for that matter. To murderers, their killing a person is the best way to vindicate whatever wrong done by their victim to them.

A significant difference was arrived at in factor 4 under guilt (Omnipotent Responsibility Guilt and Guilt that Leads to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)) wherein drug cases and crimes against property ranked the highest in terms of experiencing omnipotent responsibility guilt and guilt that lead to obsessive compulsive disorder. Interviews with lawyers, judges and expert witnesses in drug cases reveal that most persons who are addicted to drugs are those with a high sense of idealism, perfectionism and ambitions. They aim to reach the “unreachable star,” so to speak. But once they fail, they would resort to taking drugs hoping they would overcome their frustrations by way of hallucination. But once the effect of drugs subsides, majority of them begin to feel guilty of what they have done to themselves, oftentimes resulting in a feeling of uncertainty on what they are supposed to do, leading them to repeatedly countercheck whether they have done rightly.

Whereas, crimes against public order ranked the lowest in terms of experiencing omnipotent responsibility guilt and guilt that leads to obsessive compulsive disorder because the self is not the only one involved but they are mostly committed by two or more persons where one could easily pass on the blame to others who are similarly involved in it. In crimes against public order, it is usually committed by two or more persons conspiring with one another. Hence, there is a way to pass on the criminal responsibility or guilt to others who are similarly involved. For instance in rebellion and/or insurrection, it is usually committed by two or more persons and guilt is shared by all the participants and not only to one person. In short, there is a built-in escape goat on the part of one who is involved in said crime, and that is the ability to pass on the guilt or responsibility to others who similarly participated in the commission of said crime. Moreover, the resultant effect of the crime is not focused on one person but rather to those who must have been involved in it and therefore, guilt is shared by all of the participants.


This is one of the first studies in the Philippines to measure the level of shame and guilt experienced by medium security prisoners in the two largest prison facilities in the country. Findings strongly suggest that the scale is a psychometrically valid and reliable instrument. In addition, this study may be extended to other prison facilities in the Philippines on a larger scale. To increase its validity and reliability, it is recommended that this test should be administered to other prisons/ jails in other countries having various cultural backgrounds to ensure further applicability with regards to norming comparison and other aspects of standardization procedures in the wider and broader level.


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Citation: Rubia MKT (2016) Development of a Crime-Related Shame and Guilt Scale for Prisoners in the Philippine Context. J Foren Psy 1:112.

Copyright: © 2016 Rubia MKT. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.