Transforming Shame in the Pandemic: An International Study

Claude Hélène Mayer, Elisabeth Vanderheiden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Shame is an unconscious, somehow unattended and neglected emotion and occurs when individual and socio-cultural norms are violated. It often impacts negatively on the self and others across cultures. During the Covid-19 crises, shame has become an important emotion with a powerful effect, depending on how it is experienced within the socio-cultural context. This article explores shame in international perspectives in the context of Covid-19 and addresses the question how shame is transformed from an existential positive psychology (PP2.0) perspective. The study uses a qualitative research paradigm and explores shame and its transformation during Covid-19. Purposeful and snowball sampling was used. The sample consisted of 24 individuals (16 female, 8 male), of 13 different nationalities. Data were collected from written interviews and analyzed through thematic analysis. Ethical considerations were followed; ethical approval was given by a university. Findings show that participants become very worried, anxious, scared, sad, and shocked when they or individuals in their close relationships contracted Covid-19. Shame plays an important role during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the meaning and experience of shame during Covid-19 is strongly dependent on the socio-cultural background of the individual who is experiencing the disease. Individuals use different strategies and mechanisms to deal with and transform shame in the context of Covid-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number641076
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2021


  • COVID-19
  • meaning
  • mental health
  • positive psychology 2.0
  • shame
  • thematic analysis
  • transforming shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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