I'm Embarrassed for You: The Effect of Valuing and Perspective Taking on Empathic Embarrassment and Empathic Concern


Eric Stocks, University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Boulevard, Tyler, TX 75799. E-mail: estocks@uttyler.edu


Much research has investigated the cognitive-perceptual factors that promote empathic concern. However, little research has investigated such factors for a related emotion: empathic embarrassment. We suggest that 2 factors promote empathic embarrassment for a target in a compromising situation: liking the target, and imagining oneself in the target's situation. Results revealed that liking a socially compromised target increases both empathic concern and empathic embarrassment (Experiment 1). Furthermore, imagining the person's thoughts and feelings increases empathic concern and a desire for future exposure to the person, whereas imagining oneself in the person's situation primarily increases empathic embarrassment (Experiment 2). Implications of these results for future empathy research and applications for those who suffer from chronic embarrassability are discussed.