The Correlation Between Physical Appearance And Shyness

3937 words - 16 pages

Researchers have hypothesized that behavioral problems are accentuated when a shy person wants to be with other people. This need to be with others--sociability--is a related but separate construct from shyness. The purpose of the present study was to examine the correlation between physical appearance and shyness. Shyness is often a considerable handicap in social and occupational situations, and it can be inwardly distressing. Alfano, Joiner, and Perry (1994) pointed out that shyness is often associated with both depression and dysfunctional cognitions. How these dimensions relate to one another, however, is unclear. Does shyness have the properties of a personality trait and lead to ...view middle of the document...

With the effect of attributional style statistically controlled, the differences between the shy and non-shy groups in depression became nonsignificant. However, with the effect of depression statistically controlled, the differences in attributional style between the shy and the non-shy groups still remained. On the basis of this evidence, Alfano et al. concluded that their hypothesis that attributional style mediates the effects of shyness on depression was supported, albeit weakly.In discussing their results, Alfano et al. (1994) drew attention to some of the limitations of their study. In particular, they reminded us that the temporality of relationships among variables cannot be determined with confidence from cross-sectional data; longitudinal data are needed. Accordingly, inferences about the appropriate ordering of their variables remained speculative. For instance, they pointed out that although their "data are consistent with the possibility that shyness is a vulnerability factor for the development of a negative attributional style which may then lead to depression . . . the converse, namely, that a negative attributional style leads to the behaviors and affects that constitute shyness is also possible" (p. 295),We agree with this second possibility--that shyness, rather than negative attributions, may give rise to depression directly. There is some empirical support for such an alternative sequencing (e.g., Anderson & Arnoult, 1985; Bruch & Pearl, 1995; Teglasi & Hoffman, 1982). Bruch and Pearl (1995), for example, found that the main attributional factor associated with shyness was their respondents' perceived lack of controllability of events when interacting socially. Moreover, in considering the relationship between dysfunctional cognitions and maladaptive behavior, Leary (1990) argued that "people weigh the potential rewards and costs involved with certain behavioral options involved and estimate the likelihood that these options will occur. The potential costs of interaction include not only social failure and rejection, but their subjective consequences such as anxiety" (p. 41). Adding the word depression to anxiety, provides an explanation of what can happen to people who believe that others have a low opinion of them and are likely to ignore or reject them. These individuals can experience both social anxiety, which manifests itself as shyness, and depression. A more radical approach to the problem is to dispense with causal conceptions of this kind altogether, in favor of assessing the dimensionality of the Alfano et al. (1994) data by means of factor analysis. It is quite possible that all the variables measured are manifestations, in varying degrees, of a single general factor identified with negative affect and closely tied to self-esteem (Eysenck, 1970; Hallworth, 1965; Rosenberg, 1965).Another, more conservative, alternative to the Alfano et al. (1994) conception, which nonetheless stays true to their...

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