Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Nancy Thurston, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Gale Roid, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julie Cradock, Ph.D.


This study was designed to investigate the role of shame in adolescent victim and bully behaviors. Shame is an affective experience that involves viewing the self as inadequate, incompetent, worthless, or the like. Chronic shame leads to the belief that the self is flawed or damaged beyond repair. Individuals tend to respond to shame in three primary ways: deflation, inflation/contempt, and aggression. Shame affects people at every developmental stage, but adolescents are particularly prone to shame because they tend to believe others are perpetually evaluating them. This research study sought to investigate the differences in how adolescent ''victims" and "bullies" respond to shame. The 67 subjects who participated in this study attended one of two schools: a private religious school or an alternative school for adjudicated youth. Subjects were placed into one of three categories: victims, bullies, or neither. The division was based on self-report and/or teacher-report. A fourth group emerged in this process which was not anticipated. Some subjects were rated as both bully and victim, thus creating an "aggressive victim" category. The subjects were asked to participate in the Thurston-Cradock Test of Shame (TCT). The findings indicate that bullies had higher overall resolution scores, indicating a lesser ability to resolve shame-evoking stories in an adaptive manner. Additional findings include both statistical significance and trends among the subjects' responses to the five TCT cards specifically intended to depict direct shame. Overall, this study brought to light the need for further research in the area of adolescent shame.

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