Fear of blushing: the role of the expected influence of displaying a blush on others' judgements.

P.J. de Jong*, M.L. Peters, C. Dijk, E. Nieuwenhuis, H. Kempe, J. Oelerink

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives: To explain blushing phobics' fearful preoccupation with blushing, this study investigated the anticipated consequences of displaying a blush on others' judgements of the self and of the incident. We tested whether especially in the context of ambiguous situations that may be interpreted as a transgression, individuals would expect negative consequences of their blushing, and whether this effect is most pronounced in relatively high blushing fearful individuals. Design and Method: Using a vignette approach, participants (N = 36) with variable levels of blushing fear were instructed to imagine that they did or did not started blushing (i) after a mishap and (ii) in situations that are more ambiguous in their meaning. Results: Independent of situation, participants indicated to expect a positive rather than a negative influence of blushing on others' judgements of the self and of the incident. Unexpectedly, this pattern was even most pronounced in relatively fearful individuals. Conclusions: The results are in conflict with the idea that fear of blushing is fuelled by overestimating the undesirable communicative effects of blushing in ambiguous situations. In addition, the results seem to imply that different processes are involved in judging blushing others and judging other's views of themselves when displaying a blush.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-634
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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