Individual Differences Shyness and Mental Health Essay - 2822 Words

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Individual Differences: Shyness and Mental Health

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Text Preview Individual differences: shyness and mental health
Shyness tends to be viewed as a characteristic of a person. Everybody sometimes shows symptoms of shyness, such as blushing, sweating or a racing heart. However some people experience extreme symptoms and sometimes even exclusion from social life due to their inability to control the feelings of shyness. In some cases individuals develop social phobias and isolate themselves from any contact with society. Different theories were put forward to explain shyness and its development. However symptoms and effects of shyness differ in childhood and adolescence. It has a tendency to increase or condense in different stages of life, as well as change in severity. Furthermore shyness depends on personality traits therefore people experience differently the occurrence of shyness. There has been a lot of research done to study shyness; however there are still gaps left for further discovery and analysis. Some researchers regarded shyness as a phenomenon, which has been experienced by a majority of people once in their life. Crozier (2000) identified that shyness refers to feelings of awkwardness or hesitance in the social situations. Moreover it associates with self – consciousness, excessive monitoring of self behaviour and over - practicing of potential expressions. Stein and Walker (2002) argued that some people experience persistent fear of the social situations when they are exposed to unfamiliar people and may act in the way that will be humiliating and embarrassing. Individuals who are experiencing overpowering anxiety symptoms, such as fear or avoidance of public situations may develop a social phobia, which has been recorded in the DSM – IV (Maltby, et al., 2010). However Schneider and Amichai – Hamburger (2010) supported the approach that shyness may be a cause of social anxiety disorder. Kagan (in Rutter and Taylor, 2002) noted that shyness plays a huge part in a child’s biological development. He identified that some babies which were considered as irritable started showing signs of shyness and fearfulness later. Therefore in adolescence they presented some symptoms of the social anxiety disorder. Researchers disagree whether shyness is the cause or the effect of social phobia however they all agree that shyness and social anxiety disorder are closely related, therefore sometimes it is very difficult to determine whether individuals are just highly shy or suffer from social phobia (Starcevic, 2005). Kaplan and Kaplan (1995) identified that causes of shyness are associated with psychodynamic theory. Furthermore shyness develops in one of Freud’s psychosexual stages, which he acknowledged as unresolved conflict. Therefore symptoms of shyness are conscious fear, such as having nothing to say (Crozier, 1999) and unconscious fear of being rejected (Roberts, 2003). Negri (1994) supports this theory that shyness is an expression of internal conflicts, a manifestation of fear. For this reason some people adopt a defence mechanism to cope with their anxieties, by using humour or excluding themselves from certain social situations (Barlow and Durand, 2011). Social cognitive theory appeared to be more reliable as it breaks shyness into three measurable components: cognitive, behavioural and environmental. The oldest debate in psychology is the nature – nurture problem, therefore to determine whether shy personality is a genetic factor and not influenced by environment, it must be studied on infants. Reiss et al. (2000) argues that the degree to which genetic influences on the personality trait of shyness become expressed depends on the interactions they have with their parents and other individuals. If parents are over – protective towards their shy children, they are most likely to enhance an underlying genetic tendency toward shyness (Nevid, 2009). Rutter and Taylor (2002) argued that young children are often shy, but this behaviour is unlikely to be due to self – awareness or... Show More

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