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Embarrassment Helps Gain Trust

Humiliation may show you're 'prosocial': researchers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 9, 2011 2:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – It may not feel great in the moment, but embarrassment may actually work to your benefit, a study shows. The emotion may be linked to being "prosocial," or focused on helping others, researchers say. They asked more than 1,000 participants to remember embarrassing moments while being videotaped. Those who indicated higher levels of embarrassment in the videos also scored higher on tests that measured their tendency to want to benefit others.

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When others watched the subjects' videos, they said the embarrassed-looking participants seemed more "trustworthy" and "generous," Discovery reports. This second group also took a positive view of people who looked embarrassed in photos (like the one here). Earlier research has suggested that embarrassment functions as a way of admitting you've broken a social code of conduct; now, it may show that you care about the opinions of those around you. (Read more embarrassment stories.)

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