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Old April 25th, 2013, 11:08 PM   #1

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Are there advantages to being shy?


Some shy animals seem to remember better, and this research shows that shyness can help humans in areas such as art. So, should we be trying to make timid children more bold?

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Nevertheless, one can imagine many potential evolutionary advantages of being a reactive, risk-averse "pauser" rather than a proactive, risk-taking opportunity-seizer. And some studies do back up these intuitions. For example, work by Daniel Nettle at Newcastle University, UK, suggests that although introverts tend to have fewer sexual partners than extroverts, they are also less likely to be hospitalised for accidents or illness (Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 26, p 363). Perhaps more surprisingly, a new study indicates that anxious types are less prone to post-traumatic stress disorder. The researchers, led by Yair Bar-Haim at Tel Aviv University, found that soldiers in the Israeli Defence Force with a gene variant that increases anxiety and vigilance were less likely to develop PTSD following traumatic experiences in war zones (JAMA Psychiatry, vol 70, p 401).
Then there is the research of Elaine Aron at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. She studies what she calls sensory processing sensitivity which equates to the reactive end of the shy-bold continuum. Her work suggests that SPS is an inherited trait found in about 20 per cent of people, linked with introversion and neuroticism but also with an increased sensitivity to everything from music, art and novel situations to pain, drugs and coffee. In brain-imaging studies, Aron found that individuals who rated high for SPS had greater activity in areas involved in visual attention and processing in a task that required them to detect small differences between photos (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, vol 6, p 38). This indicates, she argues, that their enhanced responses to subtleties in the environment are underpinned by deeper cognitive processing of internal and external stimuli than is found in most people.
Survival of the shyest: Timidity's surprising benefits - life - 24 April 2013 - New Scientist
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Old April 25th, 2013, 11:21 PM   #2

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Being shy landed my wife.
When she saw me in school, I was a Jr., she was a Soph., and my quietness
was a challenge for her. She was bent on getting me to open up and talk to her.
33 years later, she is still enjoying the fruit of her hard fought labor: me.
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Old April 25th, 2013, 11:54 PM   #3
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I do not agree with the study. Risk taking does not = showing off. Note that I said "=". Some risk takers may take risks because they want to be in the spotlight . However, I have met shy skydivers.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 03:56 AM   #4
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sometimes being shy, you spend more time as an observer than an an actor, can be usefull (not always, not mostly but some people being more reserved they spend more time observing others, and some of them are good at it)
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Old April 26th, 2013, 04:15 AM   #5

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Human being is complicated.

There is a different from being reserved [I am reserved and conservative] and being shy.

Furthermore shyness can be selective. In a behavioral field it can dominate [often in relating with other gender], in others it can be even absent.

Great examples of this are some actors who have admitted their shyness, like Woody Allen, but we can add Tom Hanks among the most famous ones.
Incredible to say but Brad Pitt is a quite closed person in private life [here it's necessary to quote an evidence: Brad Pitt The Mexican ]

Among scientists Einstein was clearly shy.

Among leaders Theodore Roosvelt was shy.

Among artists and sportsmen the list is very long [Dennis Rodman included!!].
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Old April 26th, 2013, 04:33 AM   #6

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I've always been quite shy. It has its advantages and disadvantages. However, it's when I've tried to be proactive and come out of my shell that I've achieved the best results. On the other hand, being shy has saved me from a fair few potentially disadvantageous situations.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 07:27 AM   #7

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Yes, of course there are context-specific advantages to being shy. (Mine is a similar story to that of tjadams!) And there are times, as f0ma says, to "go for it".
The disadvantages likely cluster at either extreme of the shy-bold continuum.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 07:50 AM   #8

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The advantages for me is that you have more time to observe and absorb things, however being always shy does not involved one type of skill which is the interpersonal.

In my opinion we must develop both our intrapersonal and interpersonal skills as this may achieve the results we want for ourselves and the social skills really matter today. It is a means of communicating great ideas to be shared across the network of people.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 10:37 AM   #9

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Not sure if shy is the optimal word to use here or maybe reserved or self-conscious or even demure is better?

Shy includes elements of timidity and fear, little kids who hide behind their parents when a stranger looks at them are shy. Self conscious people are more quiet and reserved but not necessarily anxious though those traits often correlate because I think most anxious people adopt self conscious attitude to cope with their anxiety. I've know many reserved and self conscious thrill seekers but very few anxious ones. Reserved people might be only using polite manners or be naturally reserved but it can be difficult to tell on first impression.

Demure is maybe the best term as someone who is both shy (anxious and not assertive) as sometimes anxiousness alone translates into assertive behavior- buckle your seat belt! or commands to desist/leave off some action. Then reserved or not assured attitude would be more often linked to less risky behaviors or really any NEW behaviours which by definition includes most risky behaviors but I've known very unassured people who have risky habits like smoking or unprotected sex because of their anxiousness to avoid social awkwardness surpasses their anxiousness about physical risk.
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Old April 26th, 2013, 12:36 PM   #10

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I have never been a shy sort of a person and will always speak up for myself. I partner is rather shy and when socializing he needs me to prompt conversation with others. That is why I have to go to rubbish pub tonight.
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