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Chapter 7. Be Visible > Shelve Your Shyness

Shelve Your Shyness

Do you think of yourself as shy? You're not alone. Many people think of themselves that way. In 1999, Dr. Philip Zimbardo and B. J. Carducci wrote Shyness: A Bold New Approach. In this book, Zimbardo reports that in his first studies in 1972, he found that 40 percent of all Americans labeled themselves as shy. But that figure, he notes has steadily increased, year by year, to 50 percent. He blames this rapidly growing fear of being with people on a variety of phenomena, from ATMs to video games to TVs, that reduce day-to-day informal contact with others. And, he says, children aren't seeing their parents relating in a natural, easy, friendly way. Families are smaller and often are too busy to spend time honing conversation skills at the dinner table.

Zimbardo and Carducci define shyness as reticence and self-consciousness, not just occasionally in stressful social situations, but overall. They found that shy people are less popular, have fewer friends, exhibit lower self-esteem, make less money, more often say that their lives are boring, demonstrate fewer leadership skills, are more likely to be depressed, have less social support, and are more likely to be lonely.


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