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The impact of verbal feedback about blushing on social discomfort and facial blood flow during embarrassing tasks

Drummond, P.D., Camacho, L., Formentin, N., Heffernan, T.D., Williams, F. and Zekas, T.E. (2003) The impact of verbal feedback about blushing on social discomfort and facial blood flow during embarrassing tasks. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41 (4). pp. 413-425.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0005-7967(02)00021-9
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Abstract

To investigate whether verbal feedback about blushing influences subsequent social discomfort or blushing itself, changes in facial blood flow and ratings of blushing and embarrassment were investigated in high (N=28) and low scorers (N=28) on the Blushing Propensity scale while singing and reading aloud, and while listening to audiotapes of their performance. After each task half of the participants were told that they had blushed, and the rest were told that they had not blushed. Blood flow increased progressively in participants with high blushing propensity scores who were given “blushing” feedback, but not in the other participants. This finding suggests that expecting to blush may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Verbal feedback about blushing strongly influenced subsequent social discomfort, and mimicked the effects of blushing propensity on ratings of embarrassment and blushing intensity. In sum, the findings support the view that preconceptions about blushing propensity are shaped by past learning experiences, that concern about blushing is a major source of discomfort in embarrassing situations, and that these concerns are often unrelated to the actual intensity of blushing.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: Elsevier
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/2009
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