Embarrassed alone

There is the public you and the private you; “public you” nods politely when that song comes on the radio while “private you” busts full on dance moves and sings along in full voice.”Public you” expresses an interest in avante garde art while “private you” enjoys a good Arnie Schwarzenegger flick. You might think too that “public you” will be only the one of you to feel embarrassment, but new researchers that “private you” can also feel the prick of shame.

Some previous research and also common opinion has held that embarrassment is only something that you feel when in public, when others can view your shame…it only matters if your zip is left undone if others can see it, right? Well, maybe not.

To begin with researchers randomly surveyed people and found that they did report private embarrassing experiences as well as public ones. In a second survey people were confronted with the potentially embarrassing scenario of purchasing incontinence products either in person or online. Interestingly, people sometimes rated purchasing online as more embarrassing than purchasing in person.

Then, the researchers surveyed men over the age of 35 about purchasing the product Viagra, which can be purchased either for pleasure or because of impotence. The results showed that embarrassment was high when buying it in public for either reason but online the embarrassment was much greater when buying it for medical reasons. The researchers say this shows that embarrassment is felt in private but that it is much more nuanced than public embarrassment.

Who cares about this? Marketers care about this because it tells them that the online world where people would freely purchase Viagra, STD kits, and incontinence products may not be so free and easy after all. For you it explains that slightly uncomfortable feeling you have, even when no-one else is there, when you watch The Bold and the Beautiful.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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