The Influence of Public Self-Consciousness and the Audience's Characteristics on Withdrawal from Embarrassing Situations


  • We would like to thank William Graziano, James M Olson, Stephen G West, and several anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of the current manuscript and their many helpful suggestions

Requests for reprints should be sent to William J Froming, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, 935 E Meadow Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94303


ABSTRACT Two studies examined the impact of public self-consciousness (PSC) and the audience's characteristics on withdrawal from embarrassing situations In Study 1 subjects verbally responded to a series of hypothetical events of an embarrassing nature before audiences described as either strangers or friends Subjects high in PSC expressed similar tendencies to withdraw no matter who the audience was, whereas low PSC subjects reported that they were less likely to withdraw when the audience was composed of friends as compared to strangers Study 2 had high and low PSC subjects perform an embarrassing act in front of either a friend or two types of strangers–those they either would or would not interact with in the future Low PSC subjects withdrew sooner from an audience of strangers they would have to interact with than from either an audience of friends or strangers they would never see again Again, high PSC subjects responded similarly to the three audiences They tended to withdraw quickly no matter who the audience was Discussion focuses on the role situational and dispositional factors play in withdrawal from embarrassing situations