We've all had the sensation of "burning with embarrassment." According to new research from Canada's Western University, however, awareness of that phenomenon can help us. Given that a sensation of heat is associated with feelings of shame, it's claimed that alleviating the sensation can lessen those feelings.
Led by researcher Jeff Rotman, the Western team started by asking a group of test subjects to recall something that they regretted doing. When asked about what sort of emotions these recollections brought up, participants listed things like shame, embarrassment, guilt and remorse – all of which are feelings that cause people to blush, producing a physical sensation of heat.
It's not surprising, therefore, that when subsequently offered a choice of a hot or cold drink, most of those people chose the cold one.
The researchers next went on to have test subjects hypothetically invest in pharmaceutical stock, which went up in some cases and down in others. The participants then watched commercials for either a Caribbean or an Arctic cruise. In cases where participants' stock went down, they felt less regret after watching the cold Arctic cruise than the hot Caribbean one.
"This provides evidence that emotions and temperature go hand in hand, and we can potentially use this information to regulate emotions," says Rotman. He suggests, for instance, that businesses selling expensive items might want to keep their stores cold, in order to quell customers' feelings of buyer's remorse.