Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 605–615

Associations Between Shyness and Internalizing Behaviors, Externalizing Behaviors, and Relationships during Emerging Adulthood

  • Larry J. Nelson
  • Laura M. Padilla-Walker
  • Sarah Badger
  • Carolyn McNamara Barry
  • Jason S. Carroll
  • Stephanie D. Madsen
Original Paper


Many studies have documented the ways in which shyness can be a barrier to personal well-being and social adjustment throughout childhood and adolescence; however, less is known regarding shyness in emerging adulthood. Shyness as experienced during emerging adulthood may continue to be a risk factor for successful development. The purpose of this study was to compare shy emerging adults with their non-shy peers in (a) internalizing behaviors, (b) externalizing behaviors, and (c) close relationships. Participants included 813 undergraduate students (500 women, 313 men) from a number of locations across the United States. Results showed that relatively shy emerging adults, both men and women, had more internalizing problems (e.g., anxious, depressed, low self-perceptions in multiple domains), engaged in fewer externalizing behaviors (e.g., less frequent drinking), and experienced poorer relationship quality with parents, best friends, and romantic partners than did their non-shy peers.


Shyness Emerging adulthood Externalizing behaviors Internalizing problems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry J. Nelson
    • 1
  • Laura M. Padilla-Walker
    • 2
  • Sarah Badger
    • 3
  • Carolyn McNamara Barry
    • 4
  • Jason S. Carroll
    • 5
  • Stephanie D. Madsen
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.Loyola College in MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  6. 6.McDaniel CollegeWestminsterUSA

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