The Difference Between Shyness and Introversion, and Why it Matters


Shyness and Introversion

Growing up, we see various personalities that play into what is regarded as acceptable to society and what is not. As we get older, we may struggle with society’s expectations of us because our own personality clashes with this. For example, according to the Huffington Post, studies have shown that American society ranks fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likeable, and even smarter than slower talkers. This can be really harmful to people who are shy or are more introverted, as they may be just as knowledgeable, likeable, and smart. There are key differences between shyness and introversion, and perhaps understanding these can help us become more accepting of our friends and family who are like this.

“Shyness is a fear of negative judgment from others, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments”, according to the Huffington Post. Additionally, shyness is often developed due to social situations that sparked fear in a person, whereas introversion is a temperament that a person is born with, just as someone who is naturally extroverted. Psychology Today argues that both terms get confused because they both have to do with socializing – but there is a difference between fearing and having a lack of interest in it.

The Today Show states that some people can be shy and extroverted, such as someone who enjoys being around people but is frequently worried they are being judged. All in all, it seems that the main difference is where a person gets their energy from – people or solitude – and if they worry about what others think of them. These differences are important because they tell a lot about how a person thinks about social interactions and how they retreat to care for themselves in social situations.

As stated in the book, The Development of Shyness and Social Withdrawal, “Sociability refers to the motive, strong or weak, of wanting to be with others, whereas shyness refers to behavior when with others, inhibited or uninhibited, as well as feelings of tension or discomfort”. The next time you are around people, take inventory of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to determine if you have shyness or introversion. Either way, knowing which category you fall under can help you better adapt to situations and take better steps toward managing your mental health.

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