An examination of guilt in a multi-ethnic culturally diverse population

The purposes of this study were (1) to examine the relationships between attachment styles, personality constructs, and religiosity to guilt-proneness in order to recognize factors that may influence the initiation and resolution of guilt; (2) to examine the relationships between coping styles and guilt-proneness in order to understand the transition from the experience of guilt to its resolution, (3) to examine the relationship between subjective well-being and guilt-proneness, in an attempt to clarify the effect of guilt-proneness on life satisfaction; and lastly (4) to examine group differences in mean scores of guilt-proneness in a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse population, as well as the aforementioned relationships within each group. Data was collected from an online, self-report, survey from seven-hundred and forty university students from a comprehensive university in southern California. A series of one-way ANCOVAs were used to test group differences between gender, ethnic groups, religious affiliations, and native language speakers in relation to guilt-proneness. Significant group differences were found between female and male participants, as well as Christian and individuals without a religious affiliation. First-order correlations (controlling for shame-proneness) were generated for groups that differed significantly from one another. Results indicated that (1) guilt-proneness was positively correlated with attachment security for all groups, (2) guilt-proneness was positively correlated with extraversion (except within the male group and the non-affiliated group) agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, and negatively correlated with neuroticism (except within the non-affiliated group); (3) guilt-proneness was found to be positively correlated with task-oriented and social-diversion coping styles for all groups (expect for social diversion within the non-affiliated group), (4) Intrinsic religiosity was found to be positively correlated with guilt-proneness among female participants and Christian participants; lastly, (5) guilt-proneness was found to be positively correlated with subjective well-being for all groups. Research and clinical implications are discussed.