What is the scientific explanation for people being ashamed of nudity?

AIUI, humans are unique in being the only creatures who are ashamed of being seen in their skin. No other creature feels the need to cover up.

There are, of course, many practical reasons for clothing that have nothing do with modesty - it keeps you warm, it protects from sunlight, etc. - but why do only humans have this concept of modesty while no other creature has issues with being nude?

It is simply adherence to cultural norms, which is not universal across all cultures and is much more restrictive in the American culture than even some European cultures.

You are taught to be embarrassed, it is not a biological trait.

We’re only the only species “ashamed” to be naked, because we’re the only species that isn’t naked.

And we’re not naked because of the practical reasons you listed.

And only certain cultures are ashamed to be naked. I will admit that the ones that aren’t are widely perceived to be “less civilized”, but my guess is, clothing became more or less universal in certain areas due to practical reasons, which lead it to become a norm, which led to lack of clothing to be not a norm, which led to cultural/religious pressure to stay clothed in public.

Breaking norms causes shame for many things not related to clothing.

I can’t find a confirmation quickly, but I believe that feral children have all been naked, who were found in nature. I don’t believe that it’s instinctual in any way.

We teach our young shame.

It is a matter of social mores, not science.

I think to really understand this we need to know what the scientific explanation is for shame in general and to what degree our nearest as well as more distant relatives in the animal kingdom have similar cognate behaviours.

“It is a matter of social mores” is (at least part of) a scientific explanation.

I just finished reading a book entitled “The Naked Tourist”, where the author went upjungle in Papua New Guinea.
The jungle inhabitants considered being clothed as ridiculous, and offered him a codpiece so he could shed his clothes. They had no qualms about being “nude”. Based on that, and other accounts I’ve read of so called primitive people, the concept of being ashamed of nudity seems to be a cultural concept, not universally shared.

Nudity shame is a cultural construct we’ve tried to take here on the SDMB before, and we can’t seem to crack the reason why.

Let’s consider the Alphas … people who look good naked. They want to be naked, and they want to be seen naked. You can look, and admire, and the go simper off on your lowly, non-Alpha, lives.

Betas don’t want to be naked. They know, the better covered they are, the better they appear to lower ranks. They want to trick us into believing they’re better than they are, with clothing.

How the hell did they convince the Alphas to cover up in the first place?

It seems like, in Art, we do have Alphas. In Classical times, there were nude statues, that someone modeled for, then nude painting in the Renaissance, then artistic photography, then playboy and now just about everyone who wants to can put their nudity online. We essentially say, “You. Yeah you. You look good naked. Undress. Entertain me.” Maybe the Alphas, always in short supply, became so culturally marginalized that they cam to be defined as dumb?

No one wants to be seen as a bimbo. Everyone want to be seen as impressive, but not trying too hard. “Look at me, I’m Beta. Surprise. I’m Alpha.”

its funny that when even semi nudity is legal (women can go topless in nyc ) but hardly anyone does unless its to prove a socio-political point

Genealogy of morals. The less-attractive people convinced the beautiful people that they’re supposed to be ashamed of themselves. The virtue of being beautiful was replaced by the “virtue” of modesty and humility. Christianity is a religion built on shame and control of other people’s bodily autonomy.

Do you have any evidence for any of these claims?

Your non-evidence-based hypothesis seems to be contradicted by every nudist colony in existence.

I suspect that moving out of Africa had a lot to do with it.

The other factor is that clothing facilitates sexuality, in the sense that what you cannot see is much more intriguing. I think it was Margaret Mead who hung out with a bunch of Amazon jungle natives who went around naked most or all of the time, and she claimed that she never observed guys in public with an erection. When you see it all the time, it all becomes meh.

The Finnish sauna is a direct example of nudity not being sexualized in the Western World.

While not public nudity grandparents, parents and children (outside of puberty) all see each other in the nude all the time. Americans often come across as prudes or bashful when visiting the country.

This demonstrates that the “out of Africa” theory doesn’t really seem mesh with the evidence.

There must have been a time when any clothing beyond a loincloth was a status symbol. A nice sabertooth pelt or pair of mammoth slippers would have been a showing of serious wealth. Maybe “look what I can kill” or maybe “look what I was able to trade for.” Either way, it tells a potential mate, “look at me, I am a provider.”

Later on you get things like Chinese silk, Phoenician purple cloth, Canadian beaver - all things that tell the people around you that you’re better than they are.

Meanwhile, clothing is also a kind of shelter. It’s way down at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. Not having it at all is telling the world that you’re destitute, that you can’t provide, that you’re vulnerable. Look back at Depression-era photos of men wearing suits in in soup lines. They were poor but they had pride dangit. They could still put on a suit and coat and hat.

It’s no small wonder that most modern cultures want to be clothed most of the time. It’s been baking into the human brain for millennia.

Given that clothing existed before Christianity spread, and is practiced by members of pagan faiths aka non-Abramic religions, would seem to poke some holes in that.

We’re often a little stuck on the Christianity angle. And maybe, the puritanical attitudes in the contemporary US can be traced back to, I dunno, the Puritans who first arrived, having left Europe and its … non-puritanism.

Its recorded that the Ancient Romans made a big deal about moral rectitude, and held high public morals to a high standard. Maybe its not the spread of Christianity, but instead the spread of Roman culture – just at one point, some people decided to wear clothes to make a point, and that spread as far as it could. And that was easily visualized as more clothing. Even when it seems to have pre-dated that point, or seems to be a modern attitude, that may have been the threshold.

I have seen some websites where people are definitely not ashamed of being naked: in fact they seem to genuinely enjoy the experience.

This seems to be the case. The idea that it’s “Betas convincing Alphas” or “Christianity” is nonsense, except as the latter at least is a cultural phenomenon. But it’s hardly the only cultural phenomenon that views nakedness as not suitable for public display.

I would even question if other species exhibit signs of “shame” about anything. Remorse, perhaps, but I’m not aware of shame having been exhibited by non-human animals.