People are not born shy, according to Bernardo Carducci, a professor of psychology at Indiana University Southeast. In a recent paper, Carducci, director of IU Southeast’s Shyness Research Institute, argues that people are not born shy. Carducci, author of Shyness: A Bold New Approach (Harper Perennial, 2000), said that shyness is characterized by excessive self-consciousness, negative self-evaluation and self-preoccupation. All three characteristics involve a sense of self, which Carducci said does not exist at birth.
‘The question of the origin of the sense of self has been of interest to not only shyness researchers, but also some of the world’s greatest thinkers,’ said Carducci. ‘Charles Darwin proposed as early as the 1870s that a child’s sense of self originates when the child is first able to recognize themselves in a mirror ‘ something that doesn’t occur until the child is approximately 18 months old.’
Carducci said early childhood shyness often is confused with an inhibited temperament ‘ a biological condition characterized by excessive physiological and behavioral reactions to environmental stimuli, present in about 20 percent of newborns.