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The Contribution of Self-Efficacy Beliefs to Dispositional Shyness: On Social-Cognitive Systems and the Development of Personality Dispositions


  • Gian Vittorio Caprara, Department of Psychology, Patrizia Steca, Department of Psychology, Daniel Cervone, Department of Psychology, Daniele Artistico, Department of Psychology.
    We thank Simon Jencius and Nilly Mor for their comments on a draft of the manuscript. This study was partially supported by grants from Murst-Cofin-Ateneo Universitádi Roma la Sapienza to Gian Vittorio Caprara (1998–2000) and by grants from Spencer Foundation and from Grant Foundation to Albert Bandura. The paper has been prepared while Gian Vittorio Caprara was a Fellow at The Swedish Collegium For Advanced Study in the Social Sciences–Uppsala, Academic year 2001–2002, and while Daniele Artistico was supported by a grant from the Midwest Roybal Center for Health Maintenance.

Address correspondence to Gian Vittorio Caprara, Department of Psychology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, via dei Marsi, 78 - 00185 Rome, Italy. Electronic mail may be sent to


Abstract This longitudinal research explored the impact of self-efficacy beliefs on self-reported tendencies to experience shyness in interpersonal encounters among a population of adolescents studied over a two-year period. Self-efficacy measures, taken at the initial measurement period, included indices of perceived self-efficacy for forming and maintaining social relationships, dealing effectively with parents, managing negative emotions, and expressing positive emotions towards others. Levels of self-reported shyness as well as emotional stability were assessed also at time 1, with shyness measured again at the follow-up assessment two years later. Structural equation modeling indicated that two of the four self-efficacy measures uniquely contributed to levels of shyness reported at time 1, and that perceptions of social self-efficacy uniquely contributed to shyness at time 2 even when considering the effects of time 1 shyness levels. Emotional stability did not uniquely contributed to time 2 shyness after considering the relation between shyness at the first and second measurement points. The broad implications of social-cognitive analyses for the study of personality development are discussed.

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