“Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue,” study researcher Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology at University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement. “Our data suggests embarrassment is a good thing, not something you should fight.”
Researchers conducted a series of experiments to gauge how embarrassment can factor into how socially desirable someone is. For the first experiment, researchers recorded 60 college students telling their embarrassing moments, ranging from passing gas to mistakenly thinking someone is homeless or pregnant. Their levels of embarrassment were gauged from these experiences.
The students then took part in the “Dictator Game,” where each person is given 10 raffle tickets and is supposed to keep some of the tickets and give the rest to a partner. Researchers found that the people who were the most embarrassed were also the most likely to give away the most raffle tickets. The experiment was repeated among 38 strangers recruited on Craigslist.