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Shy dispositions, tough transitions.

Shy dispositions, tough transitions

Extremely shy children do not have a heightened risk for developing mental disorders later in life, but enduring shyness appears to undermine the stability of a young man's work and family life, according to a study in the November DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. Men with childhood histories of shyness are older than their male peers when they marry, have children and enter stable careers, report psychologist Avshalom Caspi of Harvard University and his co-workers. They also achieve less status in their jobs and switch jobs more often. Shy men who establish stable careers late--in their mid to late 30s--are more likely to get divorced or separated.

In contrast, the researchers note, women characterized by shyness and reserve as children appear to move through early adulthood with little difficulty. They are more likely than other women to marry, have children and become homemakers.

The Harvard team obtained data for the study from a project begun in 1928 with 214 newborn infants. Shyness was estimated from childhood interviews with mothers and teachers. Most subjects were then interviewed at ages 30 and 40.

With women now routinely entering the work force, shy females may no longer move so easily through young adulthood. But a style of interaction such as shyness--or what the researchers call "moving away from the world"--exerts its strongest effects at times of transition to new roles and relationships, they conclude.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 3, 1988
Words:233
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