(Eye-)tracking the escape from the self: guilt proneness moderates the effect of failure on self-avoidance
Failure increases the motivation to escape self-awareness. To date, however, the role of self-conscious emotions (shame and guilt) in triggering escape responses after failure has not been sufficiently addressed. In this pre-registered study (N = 156 undergraduates), we adapted a classic paradigm (avoidance of one’s image in a mirror) to a modern eye-tracking technology to test the hypothesis that shame proneness moderates the effect of failure on self-awareness avoidance. Individual differences in guilt and shame proneness were assessed before priming thoughts of failure or success. Then, an eye-tracking paradigm was used to monitor gaze avoidance of one’s screen-reflected face during a neutral, unrelated task. Unexpectedly, results showed that guilt but not shame proneness exacerbated self-avoidance after failure. The present findings challenge the dominant view that shame fosters avoidance more so than guilt.