An unpleasant emotional state associated with possible objections to his or her actions, inaction, circumstances or intentions. Guilt is distinguished from shame on the basis of specificity. Guilt concerns one particular action, in contrast to shame, which pertains to the entire self. Further, whereas shame motivates concealment or escape, guilt typically motivates reparative action – i.e. confessions, apologies, and attempts to undo the harm done.
Baumeister, R. F., Stillwell, A. M., & Heatherton, T. F. (1994). Guilt: an interpersonal approach. Psychological Bulletin, 115(2), 243-267. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.115.2.243; Tangney, J. P., Miller, R. S., Flicker, L., & Barlow, D. H. (1996). Are shame, guilt, and embarrassment distinct emotions?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(6), 1256-1269. doi: 10.1037//0022-35220.127.116.116