Why It's Good If You're Easily Embarrassed10/02/11
SUNDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- People who are easily
embarrassed are more trustworthy, more generous and more likely to
be monogamous, according to a new study.
"Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue," the study's lead author, Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a university news release. "Our data suggests embarrassment is a good thing, not something you should fight."
The findings apply to moderate levels of embarrassment -- not
feelings of shame or extreme social anxiety, the authors pointed
The study, published online Sept. 19 in the
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, involved a series of experiments.
In one experiment, the researchers videotaped 60 college
students as they told stories about an embarrassing moment, such as
mistaking an overweight woman for a pregnant one. The speakers were
rated on how embarrassed they felt.
Then the students played a game used in economics research to
measure selflessness, and the researchers found the participants
who were most embarrassed showed the most generosity.
In another experiment, the researchers also asked 38 people
found on Craigslist how often they felt embarrassed and measured
their cooperativeness and generosity after they played the same
game the students played.
Each time, embarrassment suggested a tendency to be pro-social,
Feinberg said. The findings may be helpful for people seeking
reliable partners in business and romance, the researchers
"Embarrassment is one emotional signature of a person to whom you can entrust valuable resources. It's part of the social glue that fosters trust and cooperation in everyday life," said the study's co-author, Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist, in the news release.
The authors noted more research is needed to explore whether or
not overly confident people aren't trustworthy.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center provides more
information on the
psychology of embarrassment.
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