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Abstract

The present study examines the evaluative consequences of two kinds of reaction to committing a social transgression. In an experimental study, embarrassment display and restitution behaviour were manipulated orthogonally in the context of a videotaped incident in which an actor was seen to upset a sales display in a store. Subjects were shown one of the four versions of this incident and asked to rate the actor responsible for the mishap. It was reasoned that both appearing embarrassed and engaging in restitution would have positive, but distinct, effects on social evaluation, and that the beneficial effect of restitution would be mitigated by embarrassment display. Results were consistent with these expectations. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for the social function of embarrassment displays.