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Psychological influences on blushing

Research Team Jessica Rogers, Philip Wilby, Patti Swinyard, Isabelle Tan, Natasa Vukadinovic, Natasha Ramessur

Supervisors Professor Peter Drummond

Date: Completed 2011

Ethics Approval Number: 2011/035

This research project was designed to explore whether experimenter friendliness would influence blushing, eye contact or sweating during psychological stress and embarrassment. Forty males and 40 females completed a math and singing task, while their sweating, pulse and self-reported emotions were measured. The experimenter’s friendliness had a significant effect on participants’ sweating during these tasks but not on heart rate or blushing. In addition, participants in the friendly condition made more eye contact with the experimenter than people in the unfriendly condition. These findings support the existing body of research literature on the effects of emotions and friendliness on eye contact, and also demonstrate that friendliness may influence certain physiological components of emotion. The implications of these findings for people with social anxiety need to be explored in future research.