Countering embarrassment-avoidance by taking an observer's perspective
The fear of embarrassment can have harmful effects in many important consumer domains (e.g. health and financial), especially for high public self-consciousness (PUBSC) consumers. This research examines how adopting the perspective of an observer interacts with trait PUBSC to influence embarrassment-avoidance. Study 1 demonstrates that individuals high in PUBSC (vs. not) are more likely to take an actor’s perspective and to feel personal distress when viewing an ad with an embarrassment appeal. Studies 2–3 show that seeing oneself as an observer is a helpful strategy for combatting embarrassment-avoidance for high PUBSC individuals. This process is effortful and requires cognitive resources. Together, Studies 1–3 demonstrate the power of our theory to explain, predict, and modify embarrassment-avoidance among individuals most likely to anticipate and avoid embarrassment.
KeywordsEmbarrassment-avoidance Empathy Perspective-taking Personal distress Public self-consciousness
The authors would like to thank Loraine Lau-Gesk for contributions to an earlier version of this research.
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