A Dynamic Examination of the Associations between Shyness, Psychological Difficulties, and Stressful Life Events during Early Adolescence

  • Julie C. BowkerEmail author
  • Jonathan B. Santo
  • Ryan E. Adams


Although numerous studies have established linkages between shyness and later psychological difficulties, most extant research did not examine variation in shyness over time in relation to variation in psychological difficulties over time or possible environmental factors of influence outside of the school context. The current study used multi-level modelling to simultaneously examine time-invariant and time-variant associations between shyness, the psychological difficulties of depressive symptoms and loneliness, and stressful life events at four waves across 1 year in a community sample of 271 young adolescents (51% boys; Mage = 11.83 years at W1). Results revealed significant time-variant and time-invariant effects when loneliness was examined as a predictor of shyness. In addition, a significant interaction effect indicated that shyness decreased over time for those young adolescents who experienced few stressful life events, highlighting an understudied moderator of risk. Overall, findings have important implications for understanding the psychological concomitants of shyness as well as etiological models of shyness.


Shyness Depressive symptoms Loneliness Multi-level modelling 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the students, principals, teachers, and counselors who participated in this study. This study was supported by a NICHD grant (1R03 HD056524-01) awarded to Julie Bowker.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (IRB00003128), and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the parents of and all adolescents who participated in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, University at BuffaloThe State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NebraskaOmahaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Developmental and Behavioral PediatricsCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA

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