LOS ANGELES — The feeling of embarrassment is unmistakable. The blushing, hot, sweaty shame experienced in front of other people makes it feel like a spotlight is shining on our worst flaws. The good news is- it’s a universal feeling- so we’ve all been there at some point and no doubt will again. But why?
Psychologists have asked the same question and found reasons why the intense feeling is actually a good thing. Psychologist Dr. Christine Harris told the American Psychology Association that embarrassment evolved as a way to grease social interactions.
She explained, “Group living has been important to us for a long time, and even if you don’t intentionally want to violate a social norm, you sometimes do. Embarrassment serves the function of immediately and strongly displaying, ‘Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.'”
In one study, researchers found that when people acted embarrassed by praise (as opposed to proud) participants rated them as being more trustworthy- and more likable.
Of course extreme embarrassment can becomes a social barrier, if the feeling is too intense. For people who are anxious or too afraid of becoming embarrassed, the tendency backfires.
Watch the video above for an incredibly effective- but rather unappealing treatment for social anxiety.