To err is human: Embarrassment, attachment, and communication apprehension

Lesley A. Withers, Laura L. Vernon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study examines the types of situations, or triggers, which cause embarrassment and their relationship with attachment and communication apprehension. Two embarrassment measures were compared: Modigliani's (1968) embarrassability scale and Sabini, Siepmann, Stein, and Meyerowitz (2000) embarrassment questionnaire. Participants (N = 350) completed embarrassment and personality measures. Correlational and regression analyses were conducted. All embarrassment measures were related to communication apprehension and the anxious attachment dimension, but not the avoidant attachment dimension. Not surprisingly, all embarrassment measures were significantly positively correlated with one another. The Center of Attention embarrassment trigger significantly predicted communication apprehension above and beyond the other embarrassment measures in the regression model. In contrast, Faux Pas and Sticky Situations embarrassment triggers were independently associated with anxious attachment. The implications for the conceptualization and measurement of embarrassment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Attachment
  • Communication apprehension
  • Embarrassment
  • Measurement


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