Shyness can influence the quality of an ongoing relationship -- even one as important as marriage -- according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
A key question in psychology, and everyday life is the extent to which a person's personality determines the shape and quality of his or her social relationships. In two studies, the research explored the specific impact of shyness on marital quality.
In one of the studies, researchers Levi Baker and James K. McNulty found that shyness was linked both to more severe marital problems among newlyweds and to overall lower marital quality. Shyer people reported more problems with issues like trust, jealousy, money, and household management. In the second study, the researchers explicitly showed that it was prior shyness that was linked to marital difficulties later -- even declines in marital satisfaction -- and not early marital difficulties that were linked to later shyness.
The authors suggest that shyness makes it more difficult for people to enter into social relationships and, because shy people feel more social anxiety, they are less confident in dealing with the inevitable problems that marriage entails.
"There is hope even though shyness itself might be resistant to change," write the authors. "People can be taught to have more efficacy in how to resolve the specific marital problems they face. As a consequence, any marital difficulties prompted by personality can be prevented by explicit training on dealing with marital problems."
- Baker et al. Shyness and Marriage: Does Shyness Shape Even Established Relationships? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2010; 36 (5): 665 DOI: 10.1177/0146167210367489
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