GS320A

According to the New York Times (Sam Smith, “Shyness”, June 2008), shyness is found to be prevalent and may result from both internal and external factors. For instance, shy parents may inherit their genes of shyness to their offspring, who are found to be more sensitive to external stimuli such as sound and light when they are newly born and tend to grow shy in their later lives. Furthermore, shyness may result from a lack of social interactions during the growth of a child, implying that larger family size may help children to overcome their shyness, and technological development isolated people may intensify shyness. In addition, cultural factors can also contribute to shyness. For example, in Japan success is attributed to parents and failure is attributed to the agents themselves, while in Israel the condition is opposite. This cultural difference which might explain why Japanese are more shy than Israeli. However, although shy persons are more likely to be isolated, unconfident and nerves, shyness is not without merits. Shy people are often more successful in their careers, and they harbor an altruistic attitude when interacting with others.

This article is based on the scientific research, however, its conclusions may not be credible. For example, the relationship between the shyness of parents and the shyness of their children deserves to be reconsidered, since this correlation is based on the subjective report of adult parents, rather than a quantitative objective measurement of shyness. First, parents may overestimate or underestimate their shyness, leading to the measurement errors; Second, it is more likely that parents who are sensitive tend to overestimate their shyness, and those who are not may not aware they are shy, so the sensitive responses of newly born babies to stimulus are more likely to be related to the sensitivity of their parents, rather than the shyness. The more probable channel is that parents inherit their sensitivity genes to children, and shyness is only one of its results.  Furthermore, the author correlates the different perceptions on failure and success as an explanation of various degrees of shyness between Japan and Israel, which might also be inaccurate. Japan and Israel are different in a multiple dimensions of culture, so it may be that other cultural elements affect shyness, or that some more basic factors have impacts on both the shyness and perceptions of success and failure, resulting in discrepancies in both these two dimensions. In other words, the correlations between shyness and the perception of success and failure may be only an association, rather than a causal relationship. In sum, this article could be more convincing if the author considered more about the validity of the examples cited.