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Fear of embarrassment holding you back? Here’s how to overcome it
The study’s results have implications for marketers as well.
Have you ever called someone by the wrong name and they called you out on it, publically? Such an incident can be mortifying. Most of us get over it fairly quickly. But some people have such a fear of embarrassment that it stops them in their tracks. It's called katagelophobia, and it's more common than you might think.
People who suffer from katagelophobia may even feel barred from things like pursuing a love interest, the job they really want, or even from seeing a doctor about a medical condition. So how can someone get over such a fear of embarrassment? According to a study out of Carnegie Mellon University, there’s a certain mental exercise you can do to help alleviate symptoms.
Instead of seeing yourself the protagonist in a given situation, picture yourself as an observer. The study found that when one switched their perspective from that of an actor’s point-of-view to that of an audience member, it decreased both self-awareness and emotional discomfort. Those who suffer from high public self-consciousness (PUBSC) could benefit the most, researchers write. PUBSC sufferers feel as though they’re always in the spotlight, which makes them paranoid and highly susceptible to embarrassment.
Psychologists say that humiliation is a very complex, layered emotion. As a “nested” emotion, it’s interwoven within a fear of the loss of dignity and self-esteem. Its complexity makes it difficult to deal with. The key is altering internal mechanisms, which in this case surrounds perspective.
One thing those who are highly self-conscious can do to avoid public embarrassment is to shift their focus, from seeing themselves as the protagonist to just another observer. Friendship - IMG_3604, by: Nicola. Flickr.
Li Jiang was the lead author of this study. She and her team’s findings were published in the journal, Motivation and Emotion. "Embarrassment prevents us from asking advice about what we should do, for example, about our mounting mortgage bills or unplanned pregnancies,” she told Medical News Daily. "In many cases, if we are to help ourselves, and others, we must overcome our fear of embarrassment in social situations." Jiang and colleagues created an experiment where social embarrassment was a primary feature.
Participants were asked to watch three commercials. In each, the main character suffers some kind of public humiliation. In the first, an attendee farts in the middle of yoga class. In the second, a patient gets identified as waiting for the results of an STD test. In the third, a person farts in front of their love interest.
After viewing the ads, researchers asked participants questions, to find out how they would feel if faced with each situation. They also asked whether each participant identified with the main character or felt more like a casual observer, and to what degree they experienced their point-of-view.
Those who clung to the protagonist’s viewpoint tended to be more self-conscious in social situations, while those who took a spectator’s point-of-view tended to be more comfortable and at ease. From here, Jiang and colleagues say, one can train one’s self to switch their focus from one viewpoint to the other, in order decrease anxiety.
So if you find that you’re nervous in social situations or have a difficult time managing social anxiety, consider the people around you. How are you reading the situation? Are you playing a central role or are you in the background? Consciously becoming aware of when you put yourself in the protagonist’s role and steering your point-of-view back toward the onlooker's, should reduce your anxiety significantly. These findings have implications for marketing as well.
Embarrassment avoidance forms the basis for attempts to motivate consumers to buy a wide variety of products, from laundry detergents that can resolve rings around someone's collar, to dishwasher liquid that can remove unsightly spots on dishes. Our research is relevant to those situations in which marketers want to inoculate consumers against a fear of embarrassment and encourage them to take actions they might otherwise avoid.
For more tips on getting over social awkwardness or anxiety, click here.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.