Body of guilt: Using embodied cognition to mitigate backlash to reminders of personal & ingroup wrongdoing

Katie N. Rotella*, Jennifer A. Richeson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Research demonstrates that people are sensitive to information that portrays either themselves or their ingroups in a negative light. Indeed, confronting individuals with their own past misdeeds or those committed by important ingroups can result in victim-blaming and refusals to apologize or make amends. Studies suggest that one reason why people demonstrate these backlash effects is that they immediately blunt the experience of guilt when confronted with either their own or group misdeeds from the past. The more individuals actually experience guilt, however, the more likely they are to respond to information about past wrongdoing with prosocial behavior (e.g., apologies, reparations, etc.). The present research sought to examine how subtle inductions of guilt shape responses to personal and group wrongdoing; namely, by manipulating individuals' body postures. Consistent with predictions, results suggest that embodiment-induced guilt reduces negative backlash and increases prosocial interpersonal and intergroup intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-650
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013


  • Collective guilt
  • Embodied cognition
  • Guilt
  • Pride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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