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Home / Science / BBC – Future – The science of why some of us are shy

BBC – Future – The science of why some of us are shy



This article is from Why on I shy an episode of CrowdScience, which was produced by Datshiane Navanayagam and by Cathy Edwards. To hear more episodes of CrowdScience from BBC World Service, please click here.

Is the idea of ​​meeting at a party creeping over your back with cold fearful fingers? Or the idea of ​​holding a presentation in front of a room full of people makes you physically ill?

If so, you are not alone.

Akindele Michael was a shy child. Growing up in Nigeria, he spent a lot of time in his parents' house. By the way, his parents are not shy. He believes his sheltered education is related to his shyness ̵

1; but is he right? In part, says Thalia Eley, a professor of developmental genetics at Kings College London.

"Shyness is a trait for us and temperament is like a forerunner of personality," she says. "When very young children begin to engage with other people, it becomes apparent how different it is [they] to talk to an adult they do not know."

You may also like: [19659012] She says that only about 30% of shyness is genetic as a trait and the rest is in response to the environment.

Most of what we know about the genetics of shyness comes from studies that compare shyness. Identical twins – who are perfect genetic copies of each other – with non-identical twins who share only about half of the same genes.

Over the past decade, scientists like Eley have begun to study the DNA itself to try and find genetic variants that could affect personality and mental health.

Every single genetic variation has little effect, but if you look at thousands in combination, the impact becomes more noticeable. Even then, the influence of genes on timidity can not be considered in isolation.

"There are not one, ten, or even a hundred genes involved, there are thousands of genes," says Eley. "If you think of the entire genome of both parents [of a child] there are hundreds of thousands of relevant genetic variants."

A shy child may be more likely to isolate themselves in a playground and watch everyone else instead of engaging [19659018] So the environment is almost more important to the development of these types of characteristics, she says. And one of the interesting things about genetics is that it drives us to extract aspects of the environment that correspond to our actual predispositions.

For example, a shy child may be more likely to isolate himself in a playground and watch everyone else instead of engaging. This gives them the feeling of being on their own, because this becomes their shared experience.

"It's not that it's one or the other, it's both [genes and environment] and they work together," says Eley. "It's a dynamic system, and for that reason you can do it anytime through psychological Changing therapies that teach you techniques that you can cope with. "

Is shyness necessarily a bad thing?

Chloe Foster, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Anxiety Disorders and Traumas in London, says that shyness in itself is quite common and normal and does not cause any problems unless it develops into a more social anxiety.

Foster says the people she treats seek help because "they begin to avoid many things they have to do it. "It may be that they are unable to talk to people at work, that they have difficulty making contacts, or that they are judged or evaluated by others

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychological therapy therapy for people with shyness and social anxiety

Eley says that there are evolutionary reasons for people to develop timid personality traits.

new groups, but it was also useful for people who are more risk-averse [were] are more aware of the threat and, for example, better protect young offspring.

She says that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychological therapy for people with shyness and social anxiety. This evidence-based therapy seeks to change your thoughts and behaviors.

CBT helps you to identify these types of negative thoughts and recognize that certain behaviors that we believe help us, such as saying in advance or avoiding eye contact, may make us feel socially more anxious.

"Often, during and even after a social event, this little critical tyrant comes to mind," says Foster.

] Sometimes the problem is that people who struggle with public speaking because of their shyness often set very high standards for their performance in such a situation, she explains.

… Or they should be very, very interesting and that everyone is totally excited about what he says all the time.

The more you can deal with social situations, the more confident you will become – Chloe Foster

If they are able to relieve themselves, a brief respite can help alleviate that anxiety.

Another thing that could help is to try to focus externally on what's going on around you, rather than focus inwardly on how you feel physically through fear. By focusing not on yourself but on the audience, you may be less concerned about tripping over your words.

It also suggests challenging yourself by being more open to new situations. "The more you can deal with social situations, the safer you become," she says. "But remember to tackle social situations in a new way."

This means that you need to change your script. Ask yourself what you fear most about social situations. Are you afraid of being boring? Or nothing more to say? The more you know about your fear, the more you can question it.

Jessie Sun, Ph.D. student at the University of California Davis, who deals with the psychology of personality, emphasizes that shyness and introversion are not the same thing.

She explains that people often think that introversion is to be introspective or to have an interest in exploring thoughts, but for psychologists this is part of another dimension of personality called openness to experience ,

Timid People are often introverts but they could also be extroverted, whose fear impairs sociability. And non-shy introverts may be socially savvy, but only prefer their own company.

Sun says, "Personality is consistently one of the strongest predictors of happiness and extroversion and has a particularly strong relationship to well-being."

"People who are extrovert tend to experience more feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and joy while introverts feel these feelings less often, "she says.

They found that for people who were quite extrovert anyway, extrovert action over a week meant they experienced more positive emotions

But introverts were able to experience some of that joy and enthusiasm – extroverting acted?

Sun and her colleagues did an experiment. They asked people to act extrovertly for a week – which is a long time for someone who is shy. "We asked her to be courageous, talkative, outgoing, active and assertive," she says.

For people who were quite extroverted anyway, to act extrovertedly meant that they had more positive emotions and they felt more 'authentic' – more like themselves.

But the more introverted people did not experience it that way much of this increase in positive emotions. And the people who were extremely introverted actually felt more tired and experienced a more negative emotion.

"I think the most important lesson," says Sun, "is that it's probably too much to ask introverted or very shy people to act as extrovertly as they can for a full week [but they] consider acting extroverted on fewer occasions. "

We've seen that our environment plays a big role in whether we're shy or not – but culture could also affect your satisfaction if you're a natural introvert?

The United States is said to appreciate self-confident, extroverted behavior towards introversion, while studies have shown that it is more desirable in some parts of Asia, including Japan and China, to be quiet and cautious.

Also the attitudes to the eye contact differ very much from country to country. Retired Professor of Asian Studies at Ball State University, Kris Rugsaken says, "While good eye contact is praised and expected in the West, it is seen as a sign of disrespect and challenge in other cultures, including Asia and Africa.

Extroverts are happier even in countries where introversion attracts more attention.

"The less eye contact these groups have with an individual, the more respect they show."

Despite these cultural differences, research seems to be Sun, showing that extroverts are happier even in countries where introversion is more prominent while in these countries the degree of happiness is less pronounced.

While research shows that extroverts are happier in the end, wherever they are in the world Introverting is not necessarily negative – just as being open-minded is always positive.

"Do not imagine introversion as something that needs to be healed," Susan Cain writes in her book Quiet: Th The Power of the Introvert in a world that can not stop talking. "There is no correlation between the best speaker and the best ideas."

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