Timidity, also referred to as shyness, is a pervasive psychological phenomenon characterized by inhibited behavior in social situations (Schuetze, 2018). Specifically, timidity is a state of anxiety and fear in which an individual has difficulty feeling secure and comfortable in social settings. It is often accompanied by feelings of vulnerability, self-consciousness, and difficulty engaging in conversations or activities with other people (Fernandez-Berrocal & Extremera, 2004).

The origins of timidity are complex and not fully understood. However, research suggests that it is an amalgam of genetic, environmental, and experiential influences (Stapinski et al., 2016). In particular, the development of timidity is thought to be associated with aversive experiences such as childhood trauma and neglect (Hirshfeld-Becker et al., 2002). Additionally, research has highlighted the role of cognitive factors, such as the presence of negative self-beliefs and expectations of failure, in the development and maintenance of timidity (Fernandez-Berrocal & Extremera, 2004).

The consequences of timidity vary from person to person but are typically characterized by feelings of social isolation, low self-esteem, and impaired functioning in social and occupational settings (Rapee, 2016). As such, timidity is associated with increased risk for a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and social phobia (Rapee, 2016; Schuetze, 2018).

Given the potentially debilitating effects of timidity, there is a growing body of research focused on understanding the phenomenon and developing evidence-based interventions to address it. Interventions aimed at reducing timidity have included cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (Hirshfeld-Becker et al., 2002) and mindfulness-based approaches (Fernandez-Berrocal & Extremera, 2004). These interventions are designed to target underlying cognitive and emotional processes, and to promote the development of coping skills to address social anxiety in the short-term and long-term (Stapinski et al., 2016).

In conclusion, timidity is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that has far-reaching implications for mental health and wellbeing. As such, it is important to further investigate the causes and consequences of timidity, as well as to develop effective interventions to address it.


Fernandez-Berrocal, P., & Extremera, N. (2004). The role of dispositional self-efficacy in the psychological adjustment of shy individuals. Personality and Individual Differences, 37(4), 815–825. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2003.09.015

Hirshfeld-Becker, D. R., Biederman, J., Henin, A., Friedman, D., & Snidman, N. (2002). The development of social anxiety in children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 14(3), 695–713. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579402003037

Rapee, R. M. (2016). The natural history of social anxiety disorder. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 18(1), 25–34.

Schuetze, P. (2018). Social anxiety disorder: A guide for the primary care physician. Canadian Family Physician, 64(3), 168–174.

Stapinski, L. A., Campos, D., Holmes, E. A., Ougrin, D., Miller, P., & Meiser-Stedman, R. (2016). Cognitive behavior therapy for adolescent social anxiety disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Psychology Review, 44, 94–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2016.02.004

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