Developmental Trajectories of Shyness-Sensitivity from Middle Childhood to Early Adolescence in China: Contributions of Peer Preference and Mutual Friendship

  • Xinyin ChenEmail author
  • Rui Fu
  • Dan LiEmail author
  • Junsheng Liu


This study examined trajectories of shyness-sensitivity and the contributions of peer relationships to these trajectories in Chinese children. Participants were 1061 school-age children (537 boys), initially in fifth grade (Mage = 11 years), in China. Longitudinal data on shyness-sensitivity were collected from peer assessments once a year for four years. In addition, peer nomination data on peer acceptance-rejection and mutual friendship were collected in the initial study. Four distinct shyness-sensitivity trajectories were identified: Low-Stable, Low-Increasing, Moderate-Decreasing, and High-Stable. Children with high peer acceptance scores were more likely to be in the High-Stable and Moderate-Decreasing trajectories than in the Low-Stable and Low-Increasing trajectories. The analysis of predictors of the within-trajectory growth rate indicated that children who were more liked by peers increased their shyness-sensitivity more slowly within the Low-Increasing trajectory and that children with mutual friendship involvement decreased their shyness-sensitivity more slowly within the Moderate-Decreasing trajectory. The results suggested that positive relationships might serve to attenuate developmental changes of shyness-sensitivity within these trajectories. The results were discussed in the Chinese context.


Shyness-sensitivity Peer relationships Developmental trajectories Chinese children 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research was supported by grants from the Key Research Base of the Humanity and Social Sciences Section of the Ministry of Education of China (16JJD840001) and the General Program of the Humanity and Social Sciences Section of the Ministry of Eduction of China (18YJA190009).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the review boad of Shanghai Normal University.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all children and their parents.

Supplementary material

10802_2018_507_MOESM1_ESM.docx (160 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 159 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Psychology-Human Development Division, Graduate School of EducationUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Shanghai Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.East China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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