Awkward shopping: the embarrassing & embarrassed ethnographer

Wei Eng Koh, Graham Johnson, Andrea Szymkowiak, Jocelyn Sie

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


How often do you open up about your embarrassing moments to others, even entertaining their prying? We recognise that embarrassment is a social construct that most people wish to hide and is rarely discussed openly. Using an ethnographic approach, we explored the value and challenges of studying consumers’ embarrassing experiences in retail contexts. In particular, reflecting upon our experience as ethnographers with that of the respondents during the study, and the implications for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2015
EventEmbarrassing Interactions - COEX, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 18 Apr 201518 Apr 2015


WorkshopEmbarrassing Interactions
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
OtherNo matter whether mobile devices, ubiquitous computing, intercultural HCI, public interfaces, interactive art, experimental games, social computing, or robots and virtual agents: wherever new technologies disturb or merge situational norms and audiences, embarrassment is likely. As such, (fear of) embarrassment presents a fundamental adoption and engagement hurdle for any interactive system, but also a design space for experimental interfaces. Still, embarrassment has been a secondary research concern in HCI so far. To address this gap, this workshop convenes researchers, designers, and artists to assess and advance the state of the art of understanding and designing against and for embarrassing interactions.
Internet address


  • Embarrassment
  • Ethnography
  • Methodology


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