Why Do We Blush?


Everybody feels embarrassed at times, but nothing feels worse than going completely red in the face. It's embarrassing, but it actually has an interesting reason behind it.

In short, blushing is an involuntarily and uncontrollable reflex caused by the sympathetic nervous system, which activates your fight or flight response. The release of adrenaline speeds up your heart rate and breathing, dilates your pupils and redirects energy to your muscles. And while all these effects contribute to the feelings you experience when you're embarrassed, the adrenaline also dilates your blood vessels to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery.

While most of your body's veins don't respond to adrenaline, the ones in your face do. And interestingly, this effect is entirely exclusive to humans. Even Charles Darwin commented that blushing is "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions." So are there any scientific theories as to why we blush for evolutionary purposes?

Well, the main theory suggests that blushing evolved as a means to show regret or remorse within the social codes of human society. By blushing, we're showing others that we recognize we misstepped socially, and in many ways, it acts as an nonverbal physical apology for our mistake. In this sense, blushing is viewed as a social-based instinct. Maybe even because it's much more reliable than a verbal or behavioral expression of remorse, which can be controlled or faked. Those who see you blush understand from experience what you're feeling.

Interestingly, this aligns with another theory that our strong colour vision developed to be exceptional at recognizing hue changes in skin, and as a result, emotions. Several studies have found that people who blushed after being awkward are much more favorable to onlookers. So blush! It might make you appear more relatable! 

Mitch Moffit