2018 Volume 26 Issue 3 Pages 179-193
The classic research on shyness was established when Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood (1974, 1975) reported, among their many results from the Stanford Survey on Shyness (SSS), that approximately 40% of individuals surveyed reported being shy. Forty years after this groundbreaking research, and in the spirit of the contemporary emphasis in the psychological sciences on the importance of replication research (cf., Asendorpf et al., 2013; Vazire & Lucas, 2015), the purpose of the present study was to examine some of the basic findings from this classic research forty years later in an attempt to monitor any possible changes in the personal and situational pervasiveness of shyness. More specifically, in the present study, the responses of the original groups of shy young adults (OS) who completed the SSS in the mid 1970s were compared to those of a group of contemporary shy young adults (CS) who completed the SSS after 2000. Compared to the OS, the pattern of results indicated an increase in the percentage of CS who considered themselves to be presently shy, identified themselves as dispositionally shy (i.e., past, present, and/or always shy), and say strangers and certain authority figures make them feel shy. To help understand this rise in shyness, a possible explanation linking shyness with problematic use of text-based digital communication systems and a diminished capacity for developing basic conversational skills, along with suggestions for promoting such conversational skills, is discussed. Suggestions for future research include addressing issues of replication, documentation of developmental changes, and cross-cultural considerations of the nature and underlying processes of shyness to help understand how shy individuals experience and respond to their shyness.