It’s usually quite hard to hide when we feel angry or embarrassed because our faces turn bright pink; we blush. And it often makes us feel worse…

But does blushing serve a functional purpose?

“Blushing, in fact, has perplexed scientists since Charles Darwin, who famously studied human emotional expressions and called blushing “the most peculiar and most human of all expressions,” and theories as to its exact evolutionary purpose remain unreconciled.”

Read at Brain Pickings: The Science of Why We Blush – Animated.



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  • Reply October 29, 2012

    sue bell

    years ago ABC Radio National had a great programme called Keats and blushing. One of the very interesting points to come out of this programme was the fact that caucasians found it hard to tell if very dark skinned people were blushing (in fact popular theory at that time assumed they didn’t). By not being able to see blushing they distrusted black skinned people and this was another source of fuel for the racist fires. Caucasians not being able to read asian faces is another example of racism through inability to read human emotions.

  • Reply October 29, 2012


    My dad had a very red face just before he died~ after opening his winery~ the next day~ lots of people noticed his “red” complexion~ he dropped dead swiftly on the side of the road~ a heart attack~so colour can be important~ eg “purple”~ cyanosis not a good sign~ “yellow” not good either~ but in this fleshy mess that is not always “peaches and cream”~ or “pallour”~ as in pale white ~ there are many hues~ and frankly~ I am not convinced that medical training in Australia is adequate….

    • Reply October 29, 2012


      I am sad ro watson that your Dad passed away. There are many reasons why people have a flushed complexions. I think you are jumping to conclusions to state that our medicos skills are inadequate.
      Imagine the increased demand if people lined up in our EDs with reddened faces.
      I wonder if your Dad had any other more significant symptoms along with his flushed complexion.

  • Reply October 30, 2012


    Very interesting. If blushing is triggered by remorse or shame, then the fight-or-flight response makes sense to me …

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