Bashful Boys and Coy Girls: A Review of Gender Differences in Childhood Shyness

Bashful Boys and Coy Girls: A Review of Gender Differences in Childhood Shyness Shyness is a temperamental trait characterized by a fear of novel social situations and self-consciousness in situations of perceived social evaluation. From early childhood to adolescence, shyness is associated with a host of negative outcomes including poor peer relationships (e.g., exclusion, victimization), internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety, depression), and school adjustment difficulties (e.g., lack of academic success, school avoidance). It has been suggested that shyness may be less socially acceptable for boys than for girls because it violates gender norms related to male social assertion and dominance. In the current paper, we review the empirical support for this assertion. More specifically, we examined: (1) possible gender differences in the prevalence of shyness; (2) how important others (i.e., parents, teachers, peers) might respond differentially to shyness in boys compared to girls; and (3) potential gender differences in the implications of shyness across multiple domains. Most of this research has been conducted with school-aged children from Canada and the United States. However, we also explore findings from emerging cross-cultural studies in this area. Possible conceptual mechanisms that may underlie differences in the potential implications of shyness for boys and girls are then discussed, as well as several prospective directions for future research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Bashful Boys and Coy Girls: A Review of Gender Differences in Childhood Shyness

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-013-0317-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Shyness is a temperamental trait characterized by a fear of novel social situations and self-consciousness in situations of perceived social evaluation. From early childhood to adolescence, shyness is associated with a host of negative outcomes including poor peer relationships (e.g., exclusion, victimization), internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety, depression), and school adjustment difficulties (e.g., lack of academic success, school avoidance). It has been suggested that shyness may be less socially acceptable for boys than for girls because it violates gender norms related to male social assertion and dominance. In the current paper, we review the empirical support for this assertion. More specifically, we examined: (1) possible gender differences in the prevalence of shyness; (2) how important others (i.e., parents, teachers, peers) might respond differentially to shyness in boys compared to girls; and (3) potential gender differences in the implications of shyness across multiple domains. Most of this research has been conducted with school-aged children from Canada and the United States. However, we also explore findings from emerging cross-cultural studies in this area. Possible conceptual mechanisms that may underlie differences in the potential implications of shyness for boys and girls are then discussed, as well as several prospective directions for future research.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 28, 2013

References

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