The surprising perks of being easily embarrased

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It doesn’t work for me. The things I get embarrassed about are never what other people would expect. Accusers usually rely upon poorly-defined norms, which comes off as rather passive-aggressive. So, no perqs for me.

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David Robson wrote an article on about new research that suggests that “feelings of excruciating embarrassment may be crucial for your wellbeing in the long term.”


Matthew Feinberg did research at the University of California, Berkeley, and found that people who were more easily flustered were more likely to be altruistic and to play honestly in a game that involved cash rewards.

That sounds contradictory.

The whole thing doesn’t quite make sense to me, because if there were such a clear advantage to being flushed, then there would be a strong evolutionary pressure to make us more flushed.

Presumably, there would be other reasons not to show being flushed, such as being able to lie more easily.

I’d also (if I could read the studies) be interested in knowing whether people whose skin color shows blushes less visibly, if at all, have these apparent advantages, and how that effects the evolutionary communication hypothesis.


I hate it when an accusation is made and i blush even though i’m innocent. Clearly everyone else then suspects me. Where is the advantage in that?

Also when a conversation turns awkward because you’ve started blushing and you can see the other person feeling uncomfortable. No advantage.

To be honest you just have to deal with the fact that your emotions are painted on your face for all to see. It’ll never go away so you have to adapt.

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It’s the first paragraph of the linked BBC article, and an evolutionary hypotheses is given a little lower down (deferring to an aggressor, even if you’re not the guilty party). But, like all evolutionary-psychology explanations, it’s hard to prove the exact reason.

What bothers me is why people put so much emphasis upon emotions. It’s not as if they usually have any place in complex social interactions anyway. Once one has language, it’s a far more efficient way to communicate.

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Had to dig a bit to find this article:

Drury had told no one about the operation, but people at work immediately noticed a difference in her. I spoke to a producer at her station who said, “She just told me she was going on a trip with her dad, but when she came back and I saw her on TV again, I said, ‘Christine! That was unbelievable!’ She looked amazingly comfortable in front of the camera. You could see the confidence coming through the TV, which was completely different from before.” Within months, Drury got a job as a prime-time on-air reporter at another station.

A few snips of fibres to her face and she was changed.


Visible blushing is for the light-skinned; darker skin still “blushes”, but invisibly, so there is usually a different tell to visibly mark the discomfort: an awkward smile. This can cause cultural confusion for people who think of smiles only as indications of happiness.


Yep i know i read the article :slightly_smiling_face:

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