“Embarrassment: “Emotional Awareness” by Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama




Embarrassment is an emotion, but it does not seem to have a universal signal. Some people, but not everyone, blush.

Very dark-skinned people blush, but you cannot see it. So, no signal.

Guilt and shame are very important, and different, emotions.

Guilt is about an action; shame is about who you are.

They do not have facial signals of their own; they pretty much look like sadness.

Maybe there is no signal because you do not want people to know that you’re guilty or ashamed.

However, most emotions have a signal, so that is one characteristic.

A second characteristic is that emotions can be triggered automatically in under a quarter of a second—very fast—totally opaque to consciousness.

And yet the appraisal that so quickly triggers an emotion can be very complex.

When you are driving a car and another car starts to veer in your direction, in a fraction of a second, you not only recognize the danger, but you evaluate how fast it is moving and make adjustments to your speed and the steering wheel, and you do that all without conscious consideration.

We have evolved a mechanism for dealing with sudden threats and yet now we live in a world where the threats are not always so sudden.

We may, therefore, overreact, because most of the time it is not a near-miss car accident, but we have a mechanism that can respond (hitting hands together) that fast.

So, automatic appraisal is the second characteristic.

Signal is the first.



One response to this post.

  1. […] “Embarrassment: “Emotional Awareness” by Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama […]

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