Social Question

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Why do we cover our mouths with our hand when we are horrified?

Asked by Dutchess_lll (8708points) June 6th, 2019

It seems to be a universal reaction. Is it some sort of instinct? Do any other great apes do it?

Are there any other reactions that seem to be universal among humans or even among humans and other great apes?

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18 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I notice women do it a lot more then men do,they also do it surprised as well.
I have always wondered this as well thanks for asking this.

elbanditoroso's avatar

To hold down the puke.

ragingloli's avatar

To hide your shocked expression.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Because we are mostly creatures who mimic others and it is now ingrained into our culture. I suspect it was once considered polite.

Demosthenes's avatar

So we don’t swallow a bug while gasping?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m sure my grandpa would say so the flies don’t fly in.

Patty_Melt's avatar

It is considered impolite to offer any of our orifices open for viewing.
As it is sometimes difficult to keep our mouths closed during certain moments, such as amusement or horror, decent persons would have used fan, hanky, or hand to cover the gaping hole. Then, as already offered above, over time it became mimicked behavior.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

^^^ I will buy that.

Patty_Melt's avatar

By the way, I’m watching My Fair Lady right now, and there is quite a lot of this very thing taking place when she shouts, “C’mon Dovuh, move yer bloomin’ ass!”

filmfann's avatar

It is a learned reaction.
For example, in some parts of Asia, people stick out their tongues when surprised.

ucme's avatar

Hence the word gobsmacked

Bill1939's avatar

I have noticed that many women and some men cover their mouths when broadly smiling or laughing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know if it’s really learned or almost an instinct. I guess I’ll watch more closely.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Bill1939 I think people who are self conscious about their teeth do that.

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dabbler's avatar

Maybe to block evil spirits from diving down your throat?

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