Reasons We Say the Wrong Thing

"What's the fun if no one knows that I'm doing this," or, "If I say this, I'll get it off my chest," Abramowitz said. "For some villains, they leave a calling card, because they want people to find out what they've been doing. It's almost like bragging."

But having a gaffe at some point is inescapable.

"Everyone does that from time to time," he said.

People can avoid it by thinking things through or bouncing what they will say off others to gauge the words' effects, but gaffes will happen.

Gaffes For Laughs

But, while these gaffes may generate anxiety in social situations, they have also propelled the comedy of hit shows like "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which thrived on creating uncomfortable moments.

"Sometimes, saying what's on your mind and what might be inappropriate -- that's part of the consequences -- can get laughs," said Abramowitz, who is a fan of the shows.

He notes that a lot of the humor generated by the "Seinfeld" character of Cosmo Kramer is because he often says the worst possible thing -- the elephant in the room.

But just as it's unclear why some people are more prone to commit gaffes and create uncomfortable situations, it's just as unclear why some people thoroughly enjoy those moments on television and why others don't.

"I don't know why some people like those kinds of shows, versus others," Abramowitz said.

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