Little is known about the circumstances that give rise to blushing and there have been no systematic attempts to classify and analyze the types of situations where it occurs. The study reported here analyzes a sample of recollections of occasions and a selection of literary episodes. The two sources of evidence yield somewhat different patterns but prominent themes in both are being the centre of attention, whether this is positive, neutral or negative, and the disclosure, or threat of exposure, of a private or sensitive topic. Inspection of example suggests that a blush is associated with self-consciousness. More specifically, it is elicited when circumstances cause someone to take another's perspective on the self, and this generates awareness of a discrepancy between his or her position and this position as it appears to the other. A blush does not require that the other take an adverse view of the actor's position. The blush shows sensitivity to the opinions of others and it is its capacity to communicate this that makes it effective in deflecting aggressive or rejecting responses from others.