Measuring Shame and Self-Conscious Emotions TOSCA

Psychologists assess shame as one of a few measures of self-conscious emotions. In addition to shame, the list includes embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, and pride. As with many measures of person characteristics, there are measures of traits or dispositions and measures of states. 

State shame is a temporary emotion such as a state of shame following a specific act that has been made public. Trait shame is a durable condition, which means a person experiences shame for a period of time in multiple settings.

The classic measure of shame is the TOSCA (Test of Self-Conscious Affect. The TOSCA, developed by June P. Tangney, is now in its third edition and includes versions for adolescents (TOSCA-A) and children (TOSCA-C; Tangney & Dearing, 2002).

People taking the TOSCA read a scenario and provide a response.  The TOSCA-3 is a 16-item scale. The responses reflect different ways to respond to a situation, which yield six dimensions of shame: 

1. shame-proneness
2. guilt-proneness
3. externalization
4. pride in one’s self (alpha pride)
5. pride in one’s behavior (beta pride)
6. detachment/ unconcern

The TOSCA scales are widely used. 

See Tangney et al. 2000 about the TOSCA-3 version of the scale.

See the references in Watson, Gomez, and Gullone (2016) for a list of recent studies.

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If you would like copies of various measures, contact the psychology lab linked to Professor Tangney’s page at George Mason University. There is a list of scales and an email address.

Learn more about shame in this interview with June Tangney:


Tangney, J. P., & Dearing, R. L. (2002). Shame and guilt. New York: Guilford Press.

Watson, S. D., Gomez, R., & Gullone, E. (2016). The Shame and Guilt Scales of the Test of Self-Conscious Affect-Adolescent (TOSCA-A): Psychometric Properties for Responses from Children, and Measurement Invariance Across Children and Adolescents. Frontiers in psychology7, 635. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00635

You might also be interested in the Guilt and Shame Scale (GASP)

Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index

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Watch Dr. Tangney on YouTube


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