What is „Guilt Tripping“? Meaning, properties, explanation, definition

Interpersonal relationships in many places produce powerful tactics and manipulative behavioral traits. Guilt tripping, for example, is one such emotionally manipulative technique designed to trigger intense (though unwarranted) feelings of guilt in others. Thus, „guilt tripping“ has the great potential to strongly influence individual relationships and shape them in favor of the manipulator. Decisions and dynamics of the victim are consciously controlled and subconsciously influenced by the manipulator.

Guilt tripping“ is therefore a type of passive aggression that works with targeted blame and subtly builds up emotional pressure. However, the following article is intended to provide a comprehensive explanation of what exactly is involved. In addition to a detailed definition of the term „Guilt Tripping“, its use and a social classification will be shown.

Definition of the term „Guilt Tripping“

The term „guilt tripping“ originates from the English language and is composed of the noun „guilt“ and the verb „tripping“. Combined, „guilt tripping“ can therefore be roughly translated as „shifting blame“ or „unjustified assignment of guilt“.

What is meant by this is the manipulator’s intention to inflict blame on the victim (either consciously or unconsciously) and thus to influence the victim’s behavior according to his or her own ideas. „Guilt“ is a comparatively sharp word, which is mainly used when someone has committed a crime. However, this guilt is also attributed to the victim when this is not the case at all, or only a banality was caused by the victim.

By assigning the blame to the victim, the latter feels bad, respectively responsible and tries to make up for the supposed damage. This is the real intention of the manipulator, who thereby gains advantages.

Origin and meaning of „Guilt Tripping“

The exact date of origin of the expression „Guilt Tripping“ is not exactly known. However, it is believed that the term originated in social structures over the course of the past few years and then became more and more entrenched in common usage. It is a powerful social tool used to control and negatively influence others (or to influence them to their disadvantage). Its geographical origin can be traced to the English-speaking world – presumably the United States of America. „Guilt tripping“ raises overall moral issues that ground a lack of empathy and responsibility. It is perceived as strongly negative and less desirable.

Use of the term „Guilt Tripping“

The term „guilt tripping“ is used in a wide variety of contexts today. The following are particularly popular:

  • Social Media
  • Relationships
  • Everyday life

The above uses of „Guilt Tripping“ will be explained in more detail in the subsections that follow now.

Social Media

On social media, the term „guilt tripping“ is mainly used in connection with hashtags, in comments as well as in postings of any kind. In some cases, „Guilt Tripping“ also serves as a thematic term for images or short videos. Overall, „guilt tripping“ can be found particularly often on social media, as the term can be attributed more to youth culture, which prefers to move around on social media. In addition to dedicated, social platforms, however, „Guilt Tripping“ can also be found in many places on social forums that talk about the topic of love and relationships.


In relationships, the term „guilt tripping“ is often used by victims of this manipulative technique. But also relationship experts and therapists are quite familiar with this term and accordingly it is often addressed by them. Likewise, „Guilt Tripping“ is often used in arguments as well as separation phases – especially when the potential victim has noticed this manipulative tactic. In a way, relationships represent the main area of use of this expression.

Everyday life

In everyday life itself, the expression „Guilt Tripping“ is used rather less frequently. If it does, it is only when talking about social dynamics or the relationships of friends or relatives. It should be noted at this point that the term is used much less frequently, especially by potential manipulators – presumably because they are not aware of their tactics or want to conceal them.

Social Classification of „Guilt Tripping“

In the social context, the term „guilt tripping“ is used primarily by members of younger generations, such as the „Y“, „Z“, and „Alpha“ generations. These groups are those individuals who are most active on social media as well as internet forums. The term is still partially understood by people of older generations, such as generation „X“. However, even older generations often do not understand the term or are not familiar with this manipulative technique. Exceptions are psychotherapists and psychologists. It should also be noted that the technique of manipulative blame is not new in itself, but the term „guilt tripping“ has only become established in common usage in recent years.

Criticisms of the term „guilt tripping“

Despite its widespread use and its inherently enlightening character, the term „guilt tripping“ also attracts some critics. One frequent criticism is the lack of distinction between deliberate manipulation and supposedly sincere communication – which is a very subjective and thus not very measurable thing. Critics also emphasize that the label of „guilt tripping“ is often applied hastily to legitimize or appease one’s own expressions and concerns. Further chalked up by critics is that guilt tripping is actually appropriate in some situations and does not always have to have malicious intent behind it when someone points out potential guilt. The debate surrounding the term „guilt tripping“ therefore raises several issues and requires some fine-tuning.

Conclusion on Guilt Tripping

In summary, then, the term „guilt tripping“ refers to an (unwarranted) manipulative apportionment of blame. It is a social dynamic in which there is a manipulator and a victim. The victim is made to feel guilty by the manipulator so that the victim feels bad and the manipulator can reap various benefits. „Guilt tripping“ can therefore be understood as a type of passive aggression and is especially common in relationship settings. However, the use of the term also happens on social media as well as in the context of youth subcultures.

Related to the term „guilt tripping“ are, for example, the terms „gaslighting“ and „passive aggression.“ While „gaslighting“ refers to a psychological manipulation in which a person is deliberately made to doubt, „passive aggression“ refers to an indirect type of aggression that is not physical but mental.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

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