Shame, personality orientation, and risk in intimacy: direct and estimated indirect pathways

Chris Wu, Martin J. Dorahy*, Craig M. Johnston, Katharina Näswall, Donncha Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The psychological literature has re-awakened its interest in shame. Research demonstrates that shame is negatively linked with intimacy through direct and indirect associations with intimacy fear and intimacy levels. This study explored the pathways between trait shame and perceived risk in intimacy. We hypothesised there would be an indirect relationship between shame and risk in intimacy via associations with introjective (self-definition) and anaclitic (dependent) personality orientation, identity impairment and abandonment concerns. University students (N = 501) from New Zealand and Northern Ireland completed an online survey, and path analysis was used to analyse data. Some support for the hypotheses was found, with shame being positively associated with risk in intimacy and half the magnitude of the effect operating indirectly through introjective orientation. Shame was positively associated with anaclitic personality, abandonment concerns and identity impairment, but these latter variables were not associated with risk in intimacy. Moreover, anaclitic orientation was associated with abandonment concerns and introjective orientation was associated with identity impairment. These findings extend the literature by demonstrating that shame may impact on feelings of intimacy risk directly and indirectly via introjective personality orientation. The results are consistent with research that shame has negative associations with intimacy, while also demonstrating that shame can be linked to approach behaviours via anaclitic personality orientation. This study provides further evidence of the complex nature and multifaceted effects of shame.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 30 Jul 2020


  • Intimacy
  • Personality orientation
  • Shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Shame, personality orientation, and risk in intimacy: direct and estimated indirect pathways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this