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Am I blushing? The effect of social anxiety on physiological blushing, perceived level of blushing and correlation with the Big Five personality traits

Mepham, Danielle (2011) Am I blushing? The effect of social anxiety on physiological blushing, perceived level of blushing and correlation with the Big Five personality traits. Roehampton University.

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Abstract

Previous research indicates a strong relationship between social anxiety and blushing (Edelmann 1990). However, conflicting results have been found. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of social anxiety upon physiological and perceived blushing and the relation with personality traits. A quantitative mixed design was performed consisting of completing a set of questionnaires and a speech task. An undergraduate sample (N=42) was used. The results showed a positive association between social anxiety and blushing propensity, social anxiety and problems with blushing and interaction between these three factors. High or low scores of social interaction anxiety, participant condition and blushing temperature were also found to interact. Low scorers of social anxiety had heightened blushing temperature post-speech task, whereas in the blushing condition had an increased temperature before. High scorers within both conditions had heightened temperatures post-interaction. Multiple regression analysis supported positive relation between social anxiety, neuroticism and blushing propensity. Extraversion negatively correlated with social anxiety. It is concluded that social anxiety does affect blushing and personality. Implications for treatment are discussed including the use of blushing as a psycho-physiological marker for the diagnosis of social anxiety.

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