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Abashment; Chagrin; Discomposure; Humiliation; Mortification


Embarrassment is a social and moral emotion characterized by an acute feeling of awkward, abashed chagrin following a predicament that threatens one’s desired image before real or imagined others (Buck 1999; Miller 1996). It often involves a display of involuntary blushing, averted gaze, and nervous body movement and vocalization (Keltner 1995).

Introduction: A Social and Moral Emotion

Embarrassment is a social emotion; the experience of embarrassment requires the real or imagined presence of others, the need to meet or exceed others’ expectations, and the need to be accepted and create and maintain social bonds (Buck 1999; Withers 2002). Embarrassment does not occur in the absence of any one of these elements.

Embarrassment is also a moral emotion; one must have learned social rules involving fairness judgments and be aware when a rule has been violated (Buck 1999). To create social bonds and understand...


  • Social Bond
  • Emotional Expressiveness
  • Moral Emotion
  • Social Emotion
  • Responsible Party

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Correspondence to Lesley A. Withers .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

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Withers, L.A. (2016). Embarrassment. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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