How do you assess personality? Do you informally make use of any of the methods described in this chapter?
You are a candidate for a desirable job. Your personality is going to be assessed by a psychologist. What method (or methods) would you prefer that she or he use? Why?
Because of trait-situation interactions, a person may not behave in a normal fashion while being evaluated in an interview. Psychodynamic, because projective testing is designed to uncover unconscious thoughts, feelings, and conflicts.
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Personality 435 Personality 435
Shyness A tendency to avoid others, plus uneasiness and strain when socializing.
Social skills Proficiency at interacting with others.
Social anxiety A feeling of apprehension in the presence of others.
Evaluation fears Fears of being inadequate, embarrassed, ridiculed, or rejected.
Self-defeating bias A distortion of thinking that impairs behavior.
Private self-consciousness Preoccupation with inner feelings, thoughts, and fantasies.
Public self-consciousness Intense awareness of oneself as a social object.
ation fears (fears of being inadequate, embar- rassed, ridiculed, or rejected). Although fears of rejection are common, they are much more frequent or intense for shy persons (Brad- shaw, 2006; Jackson, Towson, & Narduzzi, 1997). A third problem for shy persons is a self-defeating bias (distortion) in their thinking. Specifically, shy persons almost always blame themselves when a social encounter doesn’t go well. They are unneces- sarily self-critical in social situations (Lundh et al., 2002).
Situational Causes of Shyness Shyness is most often triggered by novel or unfamiliar social situations. A person who does fine with family or close friends may become shy and awkward when meeting a stranger. Shyness is also magnified by formal- ity, meeting someone of higher status, being noticeably different from others, or being the focus of attention (as in giving a speech) (Larsen & Buss, 2010).
Don’t most people become cautious and inhibited in such circumstances? That’s why we need to see how the personalities of shy and not-shy persons differ.
Dynamics of the Shy Personality There is a tendency to think that shy persons are wrapped up in their own feelings and thoughts. But surprisingly, researchers Jona- than Cheek and Arnold Buss (1979) found no connection between shyness and private self-consciousness (attention to inner feel-
ings, thoughts, and fantasies). Instead, they discovered that shyness is linked to public self-consciousness (acute awareness of one- self as a social object).
Persons who rate high in public self- consciousness are intensely concerned about what others think of them (Cowden, 2005). They worry about saying the wrong thing or appearing foolish. In public, they may feel “naked” or as if others can “see through them.” Such feelings trigger anxiety or outright fear during social encounters, leading to awkward- ness and inhibition (Cowden, 2005). The shy person’s anxiety, in turn, often causes her or him to misperceive others in social situations (Schroeder, 1995).
As mentioned, almost everyone feels anx- ious in at least some social situations. But there is a key difference in the way shy and not-shy persons label this anxiety. Shy persons tend to consider their social anxiety a lasting personality trait. Shyness, in other words, becomes part of their self-concept. In con- trast, not-shy persons believe that external situations cause their occasional feelings of shyness. When not-shy persons feel anxiety or “stage fright,” they assume that almost anyone would feel as they do under the same circum- stances (Zimbardo, Pilkonis, & Norwood, 1978).
Labeling is important because it affects self-esteem. In general, not-shy persons tend to have higher self-esteem than shy persons. This is because not-shy persons give themselves credit for their social successes and recognize that failures are often due to circumstances. In