Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People prefer products that help them 'save face' in embarrassing moments

Date:
August 13, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
People who are feeling embarrassed are more likely to choose items that hide or "repair" the face, according to new research. The research indicates that feelings of embarrassment can be alleviated by using so-called "restorative" products -- effectively helping people to "save face."

People who are feeling embarrassed are more likely to choose items that hide or 'repair' the face, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research indicates that feelings of embarrassment can be alleviated by using so-called 'restorative' products -- effectively helping people to "save face."

"Previous research on embarrassment mainly documents that embarrassed individuals are motivated to avoid public exposure," explains Ping Dong, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto and lead author of the new research. "However, little work has been done to examine how they could cope with embarrassment."

Dong and colleagues Xun (Irene) Huang of Sun Yat-Sen University and Robert S. Wyer, Jr. of the Chinese University of Hong Kong hypothesized that metaphorical reasoning -- the idea of "saving face" -- might be one tool for coping with embarrassment, a common negative emotion.

In their first experiment, Dong and colleagues asked some participants to describe an embarrassing situation from their past, while others in the control group were simply asked to describe a typical day at school; later, all participants rated various pairs of sunglasses.

The findings showed that participants who relived their embarrassing experience tended to prefer large, darkly-tinted sunglasses. In effect, they favored the options that covered up their faces.

In another experiment, embarrassed participants expressed greater interest in sunglasses and restorative face creams -- products that would conceal or cover the faces -- than in scarves or shoes.

Additional research revealed that participants who actually used the "restorative" facial cream after re-experiencing an embarrassing moment reported lower embarrassment ratings, and they were more likely to seek out social interaction. Wearing sunglasses, however, did not seem to alleviate feelings of embarrassment.

"Although embarrassment leads people both to hide their face and to restore their face, only by restoring their face can their embarrassment be decreased, as evidenced in their greater desire to participate in social activities," Dong explains. "It is interesting to speculate that people who wear cosmetics on a daily basis may be more tolerant of potentially embarrassing behavior."

The findings highlight the unconscious influence that metaphorical thinking can have on everyday behaviors, but Dong notes that this influence may depend on cultural differences not examined in the present studies given that all participants were Hong Kong Chinese.

"The metaphorical concept of 'hiding one's face' is fairly widespread, but the concepts of 'losing face' and 'saving face' are more pervasive in Asian than in Western cultures," she observes. "Although the effects of embarrassment on symbolically hiding one's face are likely to generalize to Western cultures, the effect of symbolically restoring one's face might not."

This research was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Dong, X. Huang, R. S. Wyer. The Illusion of Saving Face: How People Symbolically Cope With Embarrassment. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613482946

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "People prefer products that help them 'save face' in embarrassing moments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101931.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, August 13). People prefer products that help them 'save face' in embarrassing moments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101931.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "People prefer products that help them 'save face' in embarrassing moments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101931.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins