Guilt trip

A guilt trip is a feeling of guilt or responsibility, especially an unjustified one induced by someone else. Creating a guilt trip in another person may be considered to be psychological manipulation in the form of punishment for a perceived transgression.[1] Guilt trips are also considered to be a form of passive aggression.[2]

The victim may be reminded of something bad they did, made to feel guilty about it and then given an option to escape that guilt. The option will depend on what the manipulator wants them to do.[3] People often feel obliged to comply with guilt trip demands as a way of receiving others' approval.[4]

George K. Simon interprets the guilt trip as a special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.[5]

The first known published use of the term is in 1967.[6]

There are limited studies examining guilt trips and those studies tend to focus on guilt trips in parent-child relationships.[7][8]


Three types of guilt trip are proposed:[7]

See also


  1. Braiker, Harriet B. (2004). Who's Pulling Your Strings ? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation. ISBN 978-0-07-144672-3.
  2. Samsel M Passive Aggressive Behavior
  3. Understanding the psychology of guilt EruptingMind
  4. Brighton J Guilt Trips And Relationships: A Toxic Combination 25 Apr 2016 New Love Times
  5. K., Simon, George (1996). In sheep's clothing : understanding and dealing with manipulative people. Parkhurst Brothers. ISBN 9781935166306. OCLC 646166340.
  6. Guilt trip ngram
  7. Humeny C (2013) A Qualitative Investigation of a Guilt Trip Conference Paper Conference: Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University Spring Proceedings
  8. Mandara, Jelani; Pikes, Crysta L. (2008). "Guilt Trips and Love Withdrawal: Does Mothers' Use of Psychological Control Predict Depressive Symptoms Among African American Adolescents?*". Family Relations. 57 (5): 602–612. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00526.x. ISSN 1741-3729.

Further reading

Academic articles

  • Baldassar L (2015) Guilty feelings and the guilt trip: Emotions and motivation in migration and transnational caregiving Emotion, Space and Society Vol 16, Aug 2015, Pages 81–89
  • Kezar D (2000) Shakespeare's Guilt Trip in Henry V Modern Language Quarterly Vol 61.3 Pages 431-461


  • Hesz A, Neophytou B (2009) Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon
  • Scottoline L, Serritella F (2014) Have a Nice Guilt Trip
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