Study shows behaviors that can help in embarrassing situations
Almost everyone knows embarrassing situations in public, you stumble, spill yourself, drop something or say something inappropriate. This often draws the attention of the entire environment and sometimes it even creates amusement. While some people react to such situations with humor or indifference, others mentally sink into the ground and wish to be in a different place or person. A new study looked at shame and identified behaviors that can alleviate shame.
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has conducted surveys and experiments to investigate how volunteers respond to embarrassing situations. The aim of the study was to find effective mechanisms to reduce embarrassment in embarrassing situations. Because shame can be the cornerstone of health or financial problems, for example when people are ashamed of certain venereal diseases or debts and therefore try to hide the problem. The study results were published in the specialist magazine "Motivation and Emotion".
Ashamed as an experiment
In various experiments in the study, the volunteers were asked to take part in surveys on sensitive health problems such as sexual diseases. In another experiment, the subjects were asked to judge a fictitious advertising film against flatulence. This put the participants in potentially embarrassing situations, which were then analyzed by the psychologists.
Flatulence against embarrassment
The commercial was shown in two versions. In one version, a man was shown who involuntarily gave free rein to his flatulence next to the woman with whom he was just in love. In the other version, viewers were asked to put themselves in the man's situation. While the subjects in the first version tended to distance themselves from the man, the viewers in the second version tended to be more compassionate and were even more willing to buy the advertised product.
What can help in embarrassing situations
"It's about getting rid of this embarrassing situation and realizing that observers won't judge you too hard," said Li Jiang, one of the study authors from Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Behavioral and Decision. The trick is to consider yourself an anonymous observer of the situation. This view offers a greater distance from the situation.
Not suitable for everyone
The research suggests that people with enough practice can respond to embarrassing situations with less shame when viewing themselves from an anonymous observer's perspective. This also counts when you are ashamed. However, according to the researchers, this is not possible for everyone, as it requires a certain level of self-awareness, mindfulness and cognitive capacity.
Severe shame can have dire consequences
The scientists point out that embarrassment can have worse consequences than short-term discomfort. "In medical tests, people sometimes feel too embarrassed to reveal certain types of information," said Jiang. This leads to suboptimal results that can even be life-threatening under certain circumstances. Given the possible negative consequences, it is important to find ways to avoid embarrassments in this context. "Getting a distance from an embarrassing moment could be the trick," the researchers sum up. (vb)