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Behav Res Ther. 2009 Jul;47(7):541-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

I blush, therefore I will be judged negatively: influence of false blush feedback on anticipated others' judgments and facial coloration in high and low blushing-fearfuls.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Developmental Psychology, University of Groningen, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.


In the present study, we investigate whether people attribute costs to displaying a blush. Individuals with and without fear of blushing were invited to have a short conversation with two confederates. During the conversation, half of the individuals received the feedback that they were blushing intensely. The study tested whether the belief that one is blushing leads to the anticipation that one will be judged negatively. In addition, the set-up permitted the actual physiological blush response to be investigated. In line with the model that we propose for erythrophobia, participants in the feedback condition expected the confederates to judge them relatively negatively, independent of their fear of blushing. Furthermore, sustaining the idea that believing that one will blush can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy, high-fearfuls showed relatively intense facial coloration in both conditions, whereas low-fearfuls only showed enhanced blush responses following false blush feedback.

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