I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

408. Embarrassment And Conformity

Embarrassment And Conformity

In entry 151 I narrated my experience, when someone was making a fool of himself without feeling embarrassed at all.   

Today I read about an interesting research about embarrassment:
"Subjects who were more easily embarrassed reported higher levels of monogamy, according to the study.

"Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue," said Matthew Feinberg"
But embarrassment is too vague a concept.   Its real complexity needs to be analyzed further, especially concerning the difference between conformists' and non-conformists' embarrassment.    Conformists are guided by the expectations of the surrounding social environment, while non-conformists are guided by their own values, attitudes and standards.    As they compare the actual behavior with different ideals, they logically also experience very different behaviors as either appropriate or a transgression.  
  1. Embarrassment can be triggered either explicitly by behavior like bad manners or implicitly by an attitude, value or trait, that is hidden but can be revealed by observable behavior.   Sometimes observed behavior leads to the wrong appearance of embarrassing attitudes or traits, that are not real.   
  2. Embarrassment can be a consequence of either not complying with the expectations of others or of acting in contradiction to the own standards and attitudes.    Both can be either congruent or mutually exclusive.    Conformists and non-conformists feel embarrassed for very different reasons.   
  3. Conformists feel embarrassed when they appear to fail conforming.   Non-conformists feel embarrassed, when they are not correctly represented and perceived according to their own standards, they feel more embarrassed when they wrongly appear to conform than when they are perceived as behaving according to their own true standards and personality.  
  4. Embarrassment can be either direct or indirect, it can be triggered either by the own behavior or by being in some personal connection with the misbehaving person.  
  5. Embarrassment depends on the importance of the person witnessing the behavior.

A few examples.  

For a minimally cultured and sane person in western societies, burping is considered bad manners and a person burping accidentally feels embarrassed.    Basic manners are not a question of conformity.   In this case the expectations of others and the own standard of behavior are congruent.    A person burping without feeling embarrassed is considered as at least weird if not deviant.   
In our western societies, it is normal to eat using both hands.
There are cultures, where burping is considered as neutral or even good manners expressing appreciation of a meal. 
There are cultures, where only the right hand is suitable for eating, touching food with the left hand is considered bad behavior.     
Most western people would still feel inhibitions to burp, even as guests in a burping society they would still perceive this as embarrassing behavior.   
Would they be informed guests in the country with the left hand eating taboo, and they would forget themselves and accidentally use their left hand eating, they would not feel embarrassed by the blunder of using the left hand.   But they would feel embarrassed for the implicit rudeness of being inconsiderate.    
But the embarrassment of accidentally eating with the left hand as rude is restricted to the situation of being a guest with estimated people.   If instead eating with the left hand on a bench in the park, the strangers passing by are not important enough to feel embarrassed.

With attitudes, that are incongruent with the expectations of the majority, the situation is different.   For a non-believer in a christian society, there are variations of what triggers embarrassment.  
- The non-conforming self-confident atheist considers religion as stupidity and mental illness and reading religious books like the bible as a foolish waste of time.    As far as he is concerned about another person's judgement, he would feel embarrassed if seen with the bible in his hand, because he does not like to appear so stupid according to his own judgement, no matter what the other thinks about reading the bible.  
- The non-believer, who wants to conform, who has been brainwashed enough by his christian upbringing to feel deficient and flawed for his inability to believe, feels embarrassed, if he gets caught reading atheistic books.

In the hypothetical situation, that an atheist walks into a library to look for some quote in the bible, obviously the opinion of complete strangers should be irrelevant, even if they would mistake him for a christian.   A well known acquaintance is also not such a problem, because it is easy to correct a wrong impression by declaring the own atheism and reason for consulting a book as weird as the bible.   
Most embarrassing is the situation with those people, on whom one wishes to make a good impression.    Wanting to be respected by the librarian, who may be a fellow atheist, but being probably despised as an alleged christian would cause a lot of embarrassment.  

In a relationship the partner's stupidity is an indirect reason to feel embarrassed, the stupidity of being religious is just an example.   Getting involved with a stupid person means not to have chosen a sufficiently suitable equal partner but having sunk beneath the own standards and that is an act of own stupidity and a reason for embarrassment.   
When an atheistic man gets involved with a woman in spite of her stupidity of believing in a deity, the man usually does this due to his using her body as his compensation.    But a woman has no reason to ever get involved with a man, whose stupidity would cause her embarrassment.