Shyness is a feeling of fear or discomfort when being around other people, especially in new situations or among strangers. It’s an unpleasant feeling of self-consciousness — a fear of what some people believe others are thinking.
This fear can inhibit a person's ability to do or say what they want. It can also prevent the formation of healthy relationships.
Shyness is often linked to low self-esteem. It may also be one of the causes of social anxiety.
Types of shyness:
Shyness can vary in strength. Many people feel mild feelings of discomfort that are easily overcome. Others feel extreme fear of social situations, and this fear can be debilitating. Inhibition, withdrawal from social activities, anxiety, and depression can result from shyness.
Shyness encompasses a broad spectrum of behaviors. It’s normal for children to sometimes feel shy in new situations. Perceptions of shyness may also be cultural.
Some cultures, such as many of those in the United States, tend to regard it negatively. Others, such as some Asian cultures, tend to regard shyness more positively.
What are the causes of shyness?
About 15 percent of infants are born with a tendency toward shyness. Research has shown biological differences in the brains of shy people.
But a propensity for shyness also is influenced by social experiences. It’s believed that most shy children develop shyness because of interactions with parents.
Parents who are authoritarian or overprotective can cause their children to be shy. Children who aren’t allowed to experience things may have trouble developing social skills.
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