Background: Shame is considered a maladaptive self-conscious emotion that commonly co-occurs alongside depression and anxiety. Little is known, however, about the aetiology of shame and its associations with depression and anxiety. We estimated, for the first time, genetic and environmental influences on shame and on its associations with depression and anxiety in adolescence. Methods: The sample were twin and sibling pairs from the Genesis 1219 Study (Time 1, N = 2685; males 42.8%, Mage = 14.95, SD = 1.67, age range: 12-21; Time 2, N = 1618; males 39.7%, Mage = 16.97, SD = 1.64, age range: 14-23). Participants completed validated questionnaires to measure shame (at Time 1), depression, and anxiety (at Times 1 and 2). Results: Shame was moderately to strongly associated with concurrent depression and anxiety. Prospectively, shame was significantly associated with an increase in depression, but not anxiety. Genetic analyses revealed that shame was moderately heritable with substantial non-shared environmental influence. The associations between shame and concurrent depression and anxiety were primarily accounted for by overlapping genetic influences. Prospectively, the association between shame and later depression was primarily accounted for by genetic and non-shared environmental influences shared with earlier depression. The unique association between shame and later depression was mostly explained by common non-shared environmental influences. Conclusions: The findings offer novel evidence regarding aetiology of shame—although moderately heritable, shame in adolescents may also result from non-shared environmental factors. Genetic and non-shared environmental influences contribute to the co-occurrence of shame with depression and anxiety.
|Journal||Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 27 Apr 2021|