Social Emotions

When your friends make you cringe: social closeness modulates vicarious embarrassment-related neural activity

Abstract Social closeness is a potent moderator of vicarious affect and specifically vicarious embarrassment. The neural pathways of how social closeness to another person affects our experience of vicarious embarrassment for the other’s public flaws, failures and norm violations are yet unknown. To bridge this gap, we examined the neural response of participants while witnessing …

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Mentalizing and the role of the posterior superior temporal sulcus in sharing others’ embarrassment

Abstract The experience of embarrassment provides a highly salient cue for the human moral apparatus. Interestingly, people also experience embarrassment on behalf of others’ inappropriate conditions. The perceiver’s embarrassment often lacks an equivalent expression of embarrassment in the social counterpart. The present study examines this phenomenon and distinguishes neural circuits involved in embarrassment with and …

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Demands in reflecting about another’s motives and intentions modulate vicarious embarrassment in autism spectrum disorders

Abstract The affective responses to another person’s condition depend on the ability to reflect about another’s thoughts and intentions. This is relevant also for high-functioning individuals with ASD who have considerable difficulties in reading the intentions of others. With the present study we introduce a novel paradigm to induce vicarious embarrassment as a form of …

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On the distinction of empathic and vicarious emotions

Abstract In the introduction to the special issue “The Neural Underpinnings of Vicarious Experience” the editors state that one “may feel embarrassed when witnessing another making a social faux pas”. In our commentary we address this statement and ask whether this example introduces a vicarious or an empathic form of embarrassment. We elaborate commonalities and …

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Advancing the neuroscience of social emotions with social immersion

Abstract Second-person neuroscience offers a framework for the study of social emotions, such as embarrassment and pride. However, we propose that an enduring mental representation of oneself in relation to others without a continuous direct social interaction is possible. We call this state “social immersion” and will explain its impact on the neuroscience of social …

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Increased autonomic activation in vicarious embarrassment

Abstract We studied the somatovisceral response pattern of vicarious embarrassment for someone else’s inappropriate condition. Participants (N=54) were confronted with hand-drawn sketches depicting public situations and were instructed to rate the intensity of their vicarious embarrassment. The inappropriate condition varied according to the attribution of intentionality (absent/present) and awareness (absent/present). Irrespective of these attributions, participants …

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Your flaws are my pain: linking empathy to vicarious embarrassment

Abstract People vicariously experience embarrassment when observing others’ public pratfalls or etiquette violations. In two consecutive studies we investigated the subjective experience and the neural correlates of vicarious embarrassment for others in a broad range of situations. We demonstrated, first, that vicarious embarrassment was experienced regardless of whether the observed protagonist acted accidentally or intentionally …

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