Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Embarrassment is the emotion that results when social predicaments increase the threat of unwanted evaluations from real or imagined audiences. It occurs when people realize that they are making undesired impressions on others, and it usually strikes without warning when some misstep or abrupt change in fortune puts people in awkward situations. It is characterized by feelings of startled surprise, ungainly awkwardness, and sheepish abashment and chagrin. Embarrassed people typically feel painfully conspicuous and clumsy; they rue their circumstances and may be mortified or even humiliated by the unwelcome judgments they presume from others. Embarrassment is clearly an emotion: When it occurs, it strikes quickly and automatically in a manner that people cannot control, but it lasts only a short time. Moreover, embarrassment is a distinctive emotion that is unlike any other: It has unique antecedents and physiological effects, it elicits singular feelings and behaviors, and it has particular effects ...