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  1. Lynne Henderson1,
  2. Philip Zimbardo2,
  3. Bernardo Carducci3

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0870

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Henderson, L., Zimbardo, P. and Carducci, B. 2010. Shyness. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Shyness Institute, Palo Alto, California

  2. 2

    Stanford University

  3. 3

    Indiana University Southeast

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Shyness as an emotional state is considered by some researchers to be universal, a blend of fear and interest, and adaptive in evolution. Shyness as a personality trait may be defined experientially as excessive self-focus characterized by negative self-evaluation that creates discomfort or inhibition in social situations and interferes with pursuing one's interpersonal or professional goals. The experience of shyness can occur at any or all of the following levels: cognitive (e.g., excessive negative self-evaluation), affective (e.g., heightened negative emotion), physiological (e.g., racing heart), and behavioral (e.g., failure to respond appropriately). It may be triggered by a wide variety of situational cues. Among the most typical situations are interactions with authorities and strangers, one-on-one opposite-sex interactions, and unstructured social settings.


  • shyness;
  • inhibition;
  • culture;
  • social fitness