Skip to main content

Embarrassment

  • 166 Accesses

Synonyms

Abashment; Chagrin; Discomposure; Humiliation; Mortification

Definition

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...

Keywords

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

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Buck, R. (1999). The biological affects: A typology. Psychological Review, 106, 301–336.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1994). Facework. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edelmann, R. J. (1982). The effect of embarrassed reactions upon others. Australian Journal of Psychology, 34, 359–367.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Edelmann, R. J. (1987). The psychology of embarrassment. Chichester, England: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goffman, E. (1956). Embarrassment and social organization. American Journal of Sociology, 70, 1–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keltner, D. (1995). Signs of appeasement: Evidence for the distinct displays of embarrassment, amusement, and shame. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 441–454.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Leary, M. R. (1991). Social anxiety, shyness, and related constructs. In J. Robinson, P. Shaver, & L. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 161–194). New York, NY: Academic Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, R. S. (1986). Embarrassment: Causes and consequences. In W. H. Jones, J. M. Cheek, & S. R. Briggs (Eds.), Shyness: Perspectives on research and treatment (pp. 295–311). New York: Plenum.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, R. S. (1992). The nature and severity of self-reported embarrassing circumstances. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 190–198.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, R. S. (1996). Embarrassment: Poise and peril in everyday life. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, R. S. (1987). The nature of embarrassability: Correlates and sex differences. Unpublished manuscript.

    Google Scholar 

  • Modigliani, A. (1968). Embarrassment and embarrassability. Sociometry, 31, 313–326.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sabini, J., Siepmann, M., Stein, J., & Meyerowitz, M. (2000). Who is embarrassed by what? Cognition and Emotion, 14(2), 213–240.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Withers, L. A. (2002). To err is human: Embarrassment, communication apprehension, attachment, and attribution styles. Doctoral dissertations, paper AAI3066267. http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/AAI3066267

  • Withers, L. A., & Sherblom, J. C. (2008). Embarrassment: The communication of an awkward actor anticipating a negative evaluation. Human Communication, 11(2), 237–254.

    Google Scholar 

  • Withers, L. A., & Vernon, L. L. (2006). To err is human: Embarrassment, attachment, and communication apprehension. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 99–110.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lesley A. Withers .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

About this entry

Cite this entry

Withers, L.A. (2016). Embarrassment. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_506-1

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_506-1

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-28099-8

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Behavioral Science and PsychologyReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences