In this synopsis, I talk about what In this synopsis, I talk about what blushing is, the physiological causes, situations in which we might blush and theories on the adaptive values of blushing.
When was the last time that you blushed? Was it when you said something you felt like you shouldn’t have said? Was it when you got somebody winking at you? Or was it when someone complimented you?
Blushing, a reddening of the face often the cheeks is an emotion unique to humans. Only humans have shown to blush.
What causes blushing?
Blushing is triggered by an external situation that either makes you feel embarrassed or ashamed. The special hormone adrenaline activates the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the flight or fight response. This hormone thus speeds up breathing and heart rate, and causes the pupils to dilate. The reddening often of the cheek area occurs as a result of vasodilation, which is caused by adrenaline and allows blood vessels to dilate. When the blood vessels dilate, blood flow improves and allows oxygen to flow. When the cheek becomes red, vasodilation occcurs with the veins in that region.
When do we blush in?
Blushing can occur across a various range of situations that causes one to feel embarrassed. For instance, when somebody asks you out.
What are the theories on blushing?
The most prominent theory comes from psychoanalysis who claims the following:
1. Blushing is a sudden displacement from below upwards of a genital excitement which was repressed by fear of castration
2. Blushing in women is also a sign of castration fear
3. Men are ashamed and blush because they feel that they are castrated.
In other words, psychoanalytic perspectives assert that blushing occurs as a result of castration fear. Castration fear is the idea that the male child fears having his penis removed by his father. In addition, the theory intends that females experience this castration fear as well.
But as we should note is that the psychoanalysis perspective in psychology is never well supported. That is there are no objective data for its points. Hence, there may be no validity.
Another theory on blushing comes from the evolutionary and social perspective. The theories states that we blush because blushing conveys to others that we have misstepped socially. For example, if we say something we should not have said. This is an adaptive value, because it allows other to read us and it serves as a nonverbal apology for our mistake.
In summary, blushing is the result of activation of the special hormone adrenaline which activates the sympathetic nervous system causing veins in the cheek to increase blood and oxygen flow. This creates a pink-reddish appearance. Only humans blush. Blushing occurs across diverse situations; the most common being ones that forge embarrassments. For instance, when someone compliments you. The two prominent theories on blushing are from the psychoanalytic and social-evolutionary perspectives. The psychoanalysts affirm that blushing is result of castration fear, and this is the fear of having penis removed. The social-evolutionary theory combined argues that blushing facilitates survival by conveying to others that we are apologetic for or recognize what we said or did.