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Title: Development of a semi-idiographic measure of guilt-proneness for adolescents
Author: Brennan, Erin E.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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Objective : Guilt is a self-conscious emotion with cognitive, affective and behavioural components. In young people, it has been linked with prosocial behaviour and academic achievement but, when excessively or insufficiently expressed, can adversely impact on mental health. Most existing measures of guilt-proneness for adolescents have scenario-based designs, which may not capture unique personal and cultural experiences of guilt. Semi-idiographic measures, where respondents rate responses based on a subjectively recalled guilt-experience, have been recommended as an alternative, yet no existing measure for young people has used this format. The main objective was to therefore develop, pilot and validate a new semi-idiographic measure of guilt-proneness for adolescents aged 11 to 18. Design and Participants: The design comprised two studies. Study one involved measure development and interviews with nine young people. Items were compiled using interview data and a review of relevant literature. A subsequent focus group was conducted, during which the drafted measure was piloted. In Study two, the new guilt measure was validated against measures of anxiety, depression, self-compassion, shame, guilt and anger with a sample of 412 young people. Results: Content analysis was used to extract guilt-related thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the interviews. The Guilt Scale for Adolescents (GSA) was then drafted. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted on the GSA to examine its underlying structure and refine and reduce items. A final 19-item GSA was produced, with four subscales: ‘Inner Turmoil’, ‘Reparation’, ‘Physiological Reactions’ and ‘Regret and Self-Blame’. Validity and reliability hypotheses were supported. Conclusions: The GSA is the first semi-idiographic measure of guilt for adolescents. It uniquely breaks down guilt experiences into four different sub-components and scores. The GSA therefore has the potential to promote further understanding of guilt-proneness in young people. Limitations and future implications are discussed.
Supervisor: John, Mary; Simonds, Laura M. Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available