People Are Not Born That Way, According To IU Researcher
are not born shy, according to Bernardo Carducci, a professor
of psychology at Indiana University Southeast. In a recent paper,
Carducci, director of IU Southeast’s Shyness Research Institute,
argues that people are not born shy. Carducci, author of Shyness:
A Bold New Approach (Harper Perennial, 2000), said that shyness
is characterized by excessive self-consciousness, negative self-evaluation
and self-preoccupation. All three characteristics involve a sense
of self, which Carducci said does not exist at birth.
question of the origin of the sense of self has been of interest
to not only shyness researchers, but also some of the world’s
greatest thinkers,” said Carducci. “Charles Darwin proposed as
early as the 1870s that a child’s sense of self originates when
the child is first able to recognize themselves in a mirror –
something that doesn’t occur until the child is approximately
18 months old.” Carducci said early childhood shyness often is
confused with an inhibited temperament – a biological condition
characterized by excessive physiological and behavioral reactions
to environmental stimuli, present in about 20 percent of newborns.
Infants with an inhibited temperament kick their legs and feet
more often, are prone to longer and louder bouts of crying and
have higher heart rates.
Toddlers with inhibited temperament, Carducci said, exhibit behaviors
associated with shyness, such as playing alone and hiding in the
presence of strangers. “An inhibited temperament is not the same
as shyness, nor does it guarantee that an inhibited infant will
be a shy adult, or that an uninhibited infant will not grow up
to be shy,” saidCarducci.
He also noted that while only about one in five infants exhibit
this condition at birth, research over the last 25 years indicates
that 40 to 43 percent of adults surveyed consider themselves to
be shy. In his work with shy people, Carducci found that only
about 9 percent of the people he’s spoken to believe they were
born shy. “Family factors” are the leading reason attributed to
shyness, in Carducci’s research.
40 percent of the people I survey cite such factors as a lack
of family support, parental absence, parents not teaching social
skills, overprotective parents, parental neglect and other family-related
issues for their shyness,” Carducci said. “Other categories I’ve
found for self-perceived shyness are psychological problems, an
abusive past and physical appearance or impairments. Obviously,
these are not characteristics that people are born with.”
To deal effectively with shyness, Carducci said it’s important
for shy people to understand the characteristics of shyness, like
excessive self-preoccupation and self-consciousness. Carducci
said shy people should try to shift their focus from themselves
to others by getting involved in activities like volunteering.
successfully shy don’t change who they are. They change the actions
they take and the way they think,” Carducci said. “Understanding
that shyness is caused by a combination of emotional reactions,
selective beliefs and environmental factors is part of this process.
Once shy individuals understand the nature and underlying dynamics
of their shyness, they are in a better position to take actions
to control it.”#
full text of Dr. Bernardo Carducci’s paper, “Are We Born Shy?”
is available at homepages.ius.edu/Special/Shyness/AreWeBornShy.htm
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