Cringe Factor: Your Body Betrays Embarrassment

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VITAL SIGNS

It's hard to tame a blush or stifle nervous laughter. Turns out there's a physiological toll to hiding humiliation as well: Blood pressure skyrockets, then climbs steadily the longer you suppress signs of embarrassment.

Christine Harris, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of San Diego, asked students to sing the national anthem while concealing their emotions.

Subjects reigned in telltale symptoms like face-touches, excessive blinking and the giggles but shifted their gaze and swallowed far more than a control group permitted to emote about their painful performance.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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