Understanding the role of the perpetrator in triggering humiliation: The effects of hostility and status

Saulo Fernández*, Eran Halperin, Elena Gaviria, Rut Agudo, Tamar Saguy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present research addresses the question of whether two characteristics of the situation (the hostility of a perpetrator and his/her status vis-à-vis the target) are critical in triggering humiliation (versus shame and anger). In Study1, participants described an autobiographical episode that elicited either humiliation, shame, or anger. Humiliation episodes were coded (by independent raters) as particularly unjust situations in which a hostile perpetrator (more hostile than perpetrators of the anger episodes) forced the devaluation of the target's self. In Studies 2 and 3, we manipulated the perpetrator's hostility and his/her status vis-à-vis the target. Consistent with our hypotheses, both hostility and high status contributed to elicit humiliation, albeit hostility turned out to have a much stronger effect on triggering humiliation than high status. Moreover, our results clarified the cognitive process underlying the effect that these two factors had on humiliation: hostility triggered humiliation via the appraisal of injustice, whereas high status triggered humiliation via the appraisal of internalizing a devaluation of the self.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research and the preparation of this article were supported by the Research Fund Grant PSI2016-80470-P from the Spanish State Agency for Research - Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Hostility
  • Humiliation
  • Self-conscious emotions
  • Shame
  • Status


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