Why we get embarrassed and what to do about it

The feeling of embarrassment is unmistakable. The blushing, hot, sweaty shame experienced in front of other people makes it feel like a spotlight is shining on our worst flaws. The good news is- it’s a universal feeling- so we’ve all been there at some point and no doubt will again. But why?

Psychologists have asked the same question and found reasons why the intense feeling is actually a good thing. Psychologist Dr. Christine Harris told the American Psychology Association that embarrassment evolved as a way to grease social interactions.

She explained, "Group living has been important to us for a long time, and even if you don't intentionally want to violate a social norm, you sometimes do. Embarrassment serves the function of immediately and strongly displaying, ‘Oops, I didn't mean to do that.'"

In one study, researchers found that when people acted embarrassed by praise (as opposed to proud) participants rated them as being more trustworthy- and more likable.

Of course extreme embarrassment can becomes a social barrier, if the feeling is too intense. For people who are anxious or too afraid of becoming embarrassed, the tendency backfires.

Watch the video above for an incredibly effective- but rather unappealing treatment for social anxiety.