- The social emotion of embarrassment: Modulations of neural circuits in response to own and others’ social predicaments
- Award date
- 17 March 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Embarrassment is a so called social emotion arising during the interaction with our surrounding social world. It is present in various situations in our daily lives and holds a regulative function telling us how to perform according to prevalent norms and moral values. Due to the human ability to infer and share others' emotions, thoughts or intentions embarrassment is often also experienced vicariously for others. This thesis is focused on the neural and physiological correlates of embarrassment and its vicarious form. The main focus thereby lies on treating both as social phenomena and the implementation and development of social paradigms. The results show that during embarrassment and its vicarious form two neural networks are involved, the mentalizing network, mapping the component of thinking about the others’ evaluations, and a network comprising the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, mapping the component of affective arousal. Both networks interacted with ventral aspects of the anterior insula and the amygdala, areas closely linked to emotion processing, during the first-hand experience of embarrassment. Further, the studies could show that social closeness affected processing of vicarious embarrassment and increased interoceptive sharing of another’s embarrassment, while individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder show deficient processing of vicarious embarrassment. Increased levels of trait social anxiety were associated with increased activations of the mentalizing network, corroborating the assumption of heightened attention to social cues and negative thoughts about others’ evaluations in social anxiety disorder.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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