Neurohistorical and Evolutionary Aspects of a History of Shame and Shaming


Bodily adaptations have been integrated into human culture in a co-evolutionary process, such as the social and regulating function of the moral emotion shame. The ability to feel shame and physiological markers of it, such as blushing, are hardwired, but they are used in many different and sometimes even contradicting ways in specific cultures. Public penance in the Middle Ages and early modern times made use of public exposure and shaming of those who offended against the moral standards of the community. By contrast, in Japanese society formal public exposure and shaming unconnected to capital punishment did not become common until the seventeenth century.