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.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2013
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