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Study shakes assumptions about confidence

Narrator:       This is Science Today. A recent study finds that people will trust you more if you tend to embarrass easily. Social psychologist Robb Willer of the University of California, Berkeley, admits that in a culture where confidence is often revered, these findings may be a bit counterintuitive.

Willer:           Because we think that we like and respect and trust confident people. But what this research shows is while that may well be the case, we also like and trust people who get more embarrassed in situations where such a reaction could be appropriate. So, I think that this research offers a bit of a counterpoint to our assumption that all we really are looking for is confident people who know where they're going and never get flustered. That's not really the case.

Narrator:       Their study ruled out that trustworthiness was the result of empathy.

Willer:           We tested for that. You can feel bad for somebody who seems to be going through a negative emotion like embarrassment and so while that may be the case, we did find that our effects were over and above that tendency. So, people are using embarrassment as data on other people's character.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.