We are sure that every Cal student has had a moment where they embarrassed themselves in front of their peers on campus. Fell down the stairs in Wheeler? Said something woefully dumb in your discussion section? We’ve all been there.

It’s not all that bad though. A recent UC Berkeley study published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concludes that often feeling embarrassed may be an indicator of good character in an individual.

Participants of the study completed surveys that calculated “altruistic tendencies” and played “economic games” that (somehow) measured levels of trust and generosity. As a way to analyze levels of embarrassment, researchers even video recorded participants recalling past events in which they felt embarrassed.

The study suggests that individuals who were frequently flustered were more reliable and cared more about others. Easily embarrassed individuals were discovered to be more inclined toward  monogamous relationships.

The study also concluded that others will look upon bashful individuals more favorably. In one experiment, participants looked at photos of actors who had different facial expressions (neutral, prideful, embarrassed). Participants perceived the actor with an embarrassed expression as more trustworthy.

The study seems to make sense. People who are easily flustered are probably more attuned to the feelings and perceptions of others, making them more empathetic. Congratulations bashful people. You deserve a place alongside the saints. Come over and grab your complimentary “I am better than you (seriously)” sticker and wear it with pride! Change that expression of mortification for once into an expression of pure, unadulterated smug.

Image source: Gardo under Creative Commons
Embarrassment seen as a sign of many virtues [SF Gate]

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