The advantages of being embarrassed

Individuals who are easily embarrassed might also prove to be generous and trustworthy, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study observed that although people may feel bad when left red-faced, the trait has many positive connotations.

Investigators at the University of California, Berkeley said the findings could prove useful in a number of scenarios - such as dating or when a businessman or woman is looking to find reliable partners.

Robb Willer, a Social Psychologist at the institution - which was founded in 1868 - observed: "Embarrassment is one emotional signature of a person to whom you can entrust valuable resources. It's part of the social glue that fosters trust and cooperation in everyday life."

In addition, the investigation also revealed people who often feel embarrassed are more likely to remain faithful to their significant other and opt for a monogamous life.

Professor Ray Crozier, a Fellow of the British Psychology Society and a Chartered Psychologist, commented: "It is good to emphasise the positive dimension of embarrassment. 

"Certainly it can be an unpleasant experience that most of us do our best to avoid and fear of embarrassment exerts a powerful influence on our conduct.

"Nevertheless, it serves a positive function in facilitating the smooth running of social encounters and people who display signs of embarrassment tend to be regarded as more trustworthy and honest and are judged less negatively if they do something wrong than if they do not show embarrassment. 

"Blushing is particularly effective as a sign of embarrassment and acts as a nonverbal form of apology - since it is involuntary and uncontrollable it cannot be feigned and is likely to be viewed as sincere."