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The science of shyness


Last updated 07:00 28/06/2014


 HIDING AWAY: Shyness can induce feelings of social anxiety ranging from mildly distressing to severely debilitating.

Shy people have quite a bit to contend with – not least the word itself.

It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To “shy away” from something implies avoidance; to “shy” can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to “be shy of” something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

And to be a shy person in our extrovert-worshipping age can be seen as being inadequate for the task of relentlessly positive self-presentation.

I recently wrote a memoir called “Shy” as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at RMIT University and have been exploring the different definitions of the word “shy” as part of a quest to understand the impact of shyness on my own life story. As at least 40 per cent of us would self-identify as shy, I suspect my deep interest in this subject will be shared by many fellow-sufferers.

Psychologists would say it is a temperament trait, one that can induce feelings of social anxiety ranging from mildly distressing to severely debilitating. I have been relieved to discover, though, that shyness is also accompanied by a range of socially useful and positive character attributes.

Part of my research involved interviewing my mother, Melbourne University psychologist Margot Prior, who has been studying temperament for more than three decades. In her view, all children fit somewhere on a spectrum called “approach-withdrawal,” ranging from the most engaged and extroverted kids to the most withdrawn, fearful and anxious kids.

For the shy ones among us, this fear comes from our biology, specifically from the reactivity of our nervous systems.

American psychologist Jerome Kagan has studied the physical symptoms of so-called “timid” and “bold” children and found in the timid ones a neural circuitry that is highly reactive to even mild stress.

In short, those children were shown to sweat more and their hearts beat faster in response to new situations. Some kids grow out of shyness, but many of us carry this anxiety into adulthood, when this reactivity commonly manifests as blushing, trembling and hyperventilating.

I had two shy parents, so it is hardly surprising that I inherited a large dose of shyness. As a child and teen-ager, I found that this shyness often got in the way of my initiating social contact for fear of rejection. As an adult, I have grappled with social anxiety and been forced to find strategies to overcome my irrational fears.

One such strategy has been to create professional personas for myself, enabling me to function as an apparent extrovert in the workplace. In the memoir I label this persona “Professional Sian” and analyse how she has managed to perform the roles of environment campaigner, choral conductor, opera singer, broadcaster, arts critic and university lecturer.

I now call myself a “shy extrovert.” If I was an introvert, I might be quite happy to remain in the background and avoid social situations. Shy people long for social connections but have to fight through a thicket of fears to make those connections.

Managing anxiety often comes at a cost to the shy person’s body. Swinburne University psychologist Simon Knowles has studied the “brain-gut axis” and its role in the fraught relationship between anxiety and the gastro-intestinal system.

Many of Knowles’ anxious patients present with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), an inflammatory bowel condition caused by the interaction between the gut’s nervous system and the brain. My own digestive system has reacted to decades of nervous stress by developing a broad range of food intolerances.

While the symptoms of shyness can be difficult to control, the distress of social anxiety can be compounded by feelings of shame and embarrassment. We shy people often feel like incompetent idiots in social situations.

English sociologist Susie Scott believes this feeling of relative incompetence is central to the experience of shyness. But she blames these feelings on what she calls “the illusion of competence”: the mistaken belief that we all have to present ourselves as socially competent all the time.

In her 2007 book “Shyness and Society: The Illusion of Competence,” Scott argues that shy people are perceived as failing to pull their weight in social situations and that, while non-shyness is seen as normal and acceptable, shyness is seen as deviant and undesirable.

The misperception of shyness as rudeness or aloofness plagues shy people, but in fact we long for social inclusion and connection.

But the news is not all bad. According to Macquarie University psychologist Ron Rapee, shyness usually comes with a range of positive attributes, including greater sensitivity and greater levels of honesty.

When I interviewed Rapee, he told me shy people were often reliable, conscientious and good listeners who demonstrated high levels of empathy. Many shy people can be found in the caring professions, working in roles that are generally non-self-aggrandising and non-domineering.

The social acceptability of shyness is also somewhat dependent on the culture in which you’re living. According to Canadian psychologist Xinyin Chen, while North American parents typically react to their children’s shy-inhibited behavior with disappointment, in group-oriented societies such as China, shy-inhibited behavior may be encouraged because it is conducive to group organisation.

My autobiographical quest to understand shyness has not “cured” me of this temperament trait, as I had hoped. But it has erased my shame and embarrassment about my social anxiety and reassured me that without shy people the world would be a far less compassionate place.

Sian Prior is a journalist and professor at the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.


This article was originally published on The Conversation


Jurgen Klinsmann cita Obama e reforça: “Voos agendados para 14 de julho”

Animado após classificação para as oitavas de final da Copa, técnico dos EUA acredita em bom desempenho nos jogos eliminatórios: “Agora tudo é possível” .

Klinsmann  estados unidos (Foto: Aldo Carneiro / Pernambuco Press)

Klinsmann está confiante no bom desempenho dos americanos (Foto: Aldo Carneiro / Pernambuco Press)

Nem mesmo a derrota por 1 a 0 para a Alemanha, nesta quinta-feira, no Recife, abalou a confiança da seleção dos EUA para a disputa das oitavas de final. O técnicoJurgen Klinsmann é tão ligado ao seu grupo, que acredita não só em uma vitória contra a Bélgica, nesta terça, em Salvador, mas também em uma campanha histórica até as fases finais da Copa do Mundo. Logo após a confirmação da classificação, o alemão fez um discurso contundente a seu grupo.

Conhecido por ser motivador, Klinsmann usou frases de confiança de pessoas famosas e também a foto postada pelo presidente americano Barack Obama, que assistiu à partida dentro de uma sala em seu avião particular, durante viagem até a cidade de Minneapolis. Em conversa pós-jogo com seu elenco, o técnico ressaltou que até o homem mais importante do país está ligado na Copa.

– Agora é o momento. Todo mundo está acompanhando e nos demos conta disso. Se todos forem ao limite, vamos longe nesse torneio. Disse a eles que nossos voos estão agendados para o dia 14 de julho, um dia depois da final. O fim é 13 de julho e queremos estar lá. Passamos pelo grupo da morte, quase ganhamos de Portugal, um dos favoritos, e estamos confiantes para essa nova fase – disse Klinsmann.

confronto com a Bélgica não assusta os americanos. Classificados com 100% de aproveitamento no Grupo H, os belgas tiveram vitórias magras e não convenceram a torcida. Os EUA acreditam que podem fazer história no Brasil.

– Saímos de um grupo muito difícil, e isso nos dá mais fome para querer mais. Todos querem crescer ainda mais. O próximo passo é bater a Bélgica. Passamos por um grupo muito duro. A partir disso, agora, tudo é possível – avisou Jurgen Klinsmann.

A alegria pela vaga foi tão grande que a Federação de Futebol dos EUA promoveu um churrasco para jogadores e seus familiares, nesta sexta-feira, no CT do São Paulo. O grupo treina sábado e viaja domingo para Salvador, local do duelo contra a Bélgica, terça-feira, às 17h (horário de Brasília), na Arena Fonte Nova.

Presidente Barack Obama assiste ao jogo entre Alemanha e EUA (Foto: Agência AP)
Presidente Barack Obama assiste ao jogo entre Alemanha e EUA (Foto: Agência AP)

James Akel comenta a incoerência do PSDB na campanha contra Dilma Rousseff


O governador Geraldo está tendo atitudes que espantam os tucanos.

Primeiro Geraldo dá a vice de governo pra um indicado de Eduardo Campos, ou seja, o vice de Geraldo vai aparecer na tv dizendo pra se votar no Eduardo.

Agora o governador oferece o lugar de senador pra Kassabque apoia Dilma, ou seja, Kassab vai aparecer na tv dizendo que vai votar em Dilma.

Os tucanos parecem não precisar de adversários pra campanha.

Eles são seus próprios adversários faz tempo.

 Escrito por jamesakel@uol.com.br às 16h23 no dia 28.06.2014

James Akel comenta que o PT vai usar a rejeição de Serra a seu favor na luta contra Aécio


Os petistas estão contentes com a possibilidade de Serra participar ativamente da campanha de Aécio.

Acreditam que a rejeição de Aécio é uma arma a favor de Dilma, que também tem rejeição próxima dele.

O que alguns tucanos não entendem é Aécio declarar que vai dar tanto tempo de programa pra Serra aparecer.

 Escrito por jamesakel@uol.com.br às 16h23 no dia 28.06.2014

Draw released for inaugural Football Federation Australia Cup

June 27, 2014

Both the Mariners and Wanderers will not face fellow A-League clubs in their opening matches.

Both the Mariners and Wanderers will not face fellow A-League clubs in their opening matches. Photo: Getty Images

Perth soccer clubs Bayswater City and Stirling Lions will host A-League opposition in the FFA Cup’s round of 32.

The round-of-32 draw for Football Federation Australia’s new knockout competition was revealed on Friday.

The Chris Coyne-coached Bayswater are up against Melbourne Victory, while Stirling tackle reigning A-League champions Brisbane Roar.

The other early potential mismatches pit South Coast Wolves against Central Coast Mariners, with Adelaide City hosting Western Sydney Wanderers.

The remaining 18 non-professional clubs were in a separate pot and will not confront A-League sides until later in the competition.

Melbourne Heart’s first match since the Manchester City takeover will be in the Cup against Sydney FC, boosted by new coach Graham Arnold.

Newcastle Jets will host Perth Glory, while Adelaide United travel to Wellington Phoenix.

FFA will confirm dates and venues of round-of-32 matches on Monday.


* Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory

Melbourne City v Sydney FC

* Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United

* South Coast Wolves v Central Coast Mariners

* Bayswater City v Melbourne Victory

* Adelaide City v Western Sydney Wanderers

* Stirling Lions v Brisbane Roar


* Broadmeadow Magic v Brisbane Strikers

* Sydney United 58 v FNQ FC Heat

* Parramatta FC v St Albans Saints

* Olympic FC v Melbourne Knights

* Manly United v Sydney Olympic

* South Hobart v Tuggeranong United

* Hakoah Sydney City v Palm Beach Sharks

* South Springvale v South Cardiff

* Blacktown City v Bentleigh Greens

Dates, venues and kick-off times to be announced on June 30.


Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Football Federation Australia bans clubs from using ethnic names and logos

June 26, 2014

Kim Arlington, Saffron Howden

David Gallop says he wants clubs that "stand for uniting people through the joy of football".

David Gallop says he wants clubs that “stand for uniting people through the joy of football“. Photo: Getty Images

Soccer clubs will be banned from using names, logos and emblems with ‘‘any ethnic, national, political, racial or religious connotations’’ under a new Football Federation Australia policy.

While it will not be applied retrospectively to established clubs, all new clubs affiliated to FFA-approved competitions, or existing clubs wishing to make changes, will have to comply with the national club identity policy.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said the policy aimed to promote football as Australia’s most inclusive, accessible and multicultural sport.

“The very name and logo of a club sends a message about what that club stands for,’’ he said. ‘‘We want clubs that stand for uniting people through the joy of football.’’

A strict reading of the new rules might suggest that names with English or Scottish connotations – such as Rangers or Rovers – would be banned, but it was unclear just how strictly the rules would be applied.

The policy has provoked rumblings on social media, with some fans complaining it is racist.

Sydney’s Fairfield-based Marconi Stallions, with Italian heritage, said not everyone would agree with the change.

Marconi football operations manager Jesse Mariani said the naming and branding of clubs told a story about their heritage.

“[It would be] taking away the sense of where football came from,” he said.

A spokesman for Sydney United, which changed its name from Croatia Sydney in 1993, said his club would have to take a closer look at the policy before he could comment.

Aaron Smith, a professor of sport business at RMIT, said a report commissioned 25 years ago by the then Australian Soccer Federation blamed the sport’s ‘‘lack of traction at a national level on soccer’s ethnic image’’.

‘‘Over time, because the league has really failed to deliver the sort of fan following you’d expect with the world game, there’s this longstanding assumption that it’s connected to ethnicity, and these long-term tribal identifications,’’ he said. ‘

‘The league as a consequence is now desperately trying to make the game contemporary and appealing to fans and sponsors and television networks.

‘‘It’s a politically correct and understandable step from a marketing perspective, and probably essential to the long-term sustainability of the league as well.’’

Professor Smith said with new clubs having to follow the policy, existing clubs would feel pressure to re-examine their colours, symbols and identities.

‘‘I don’t think the clubs will like it because they will perceive their ethnic connections as being overwhelmingly positive,’’ he said.

Associate Professor Ramon Spaaij, an expert on the sociology of sport at Victoria University, said promoting football as inclusive and accessible was ‘‘important to a football code that’s historically been a bit marginalised’’.

‘‘That’s a really important objective … but I question whether that sort of initiative will address that objective,’’ he said.’

‘‘To completely discourage members of particular ethnic communities to associate with particular clubs, that would miss the point of trying to promote an inclusive environment.’’

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Cold and windy as severe weather warning issued for the Australian Capital Territory

June 28, 2014 – 9:18PM

Megan Gorrey

Reporter at The Canberra Times

Weekend snow lovers battle blizzard conditions at Perisher.


Weekend snow lovers battle blizzard conditions at Perisher. Photo: Jay Cronan

The mercury took a dive and winds gathered pace as a strong cold front swept across the capital and dumped fresh powder on peaks around the ACT on Saturday.

Canberrans woke to clear skies before the mercury hit a high of 12 degrees at 10.30am. But that soon gave way to rain and gusty winds and a fall in temperature to a chilly 6 degrees within an hour.

The cold change prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a severe weather warning for the territory and parts of coastal and south-east NSW.

Weatherzone.com.au meteorologist Rob Sharpe said wind gusts peaked about 65km/h mid-morning and about five millimetres of rain fell on the capital. He said the temperature would have felt like between 0 and 2 degrees for much of the day.

Meteorologists forecast strong winds and blizzard conditions, as well as fresh snow falls for the Snowy Mountains and Brindabella Range.

Mr Sharpe said Perisher and Thredbo had each received 20 to 30 centimetres of snow by late afternoon. About 15 centimetres of fresh powder dusted Ginninderra and snow also fell at Corin Forest.

Damaging winds with gusts up to 100km/h were forecast for the Snowy Mountains and ACT. The bureau warned the alpine peaks could experience gusts of up to 120km/h.

A heavy shower in the early evening saw 12 millimetres of rain fall in Tuggeranong, while winds of up to 74 km/h lashed the capital about 6pm.

Wet weather and snow falls caused the ACT government to close Corin Road from Square Rock and Bendora Dam Road at Bendora Gate.

Booroomba Rocks Road and Orroral Ridge Road have also been shut, as well as Mount Franklin Road at Piccadilly Circus.

An ACT Emergency Services Agency spokesman said there were only two calls for help throughout the day.

Residents are encouraged to move their vehicles under cover or away from trees, secure or put away loose items around the house, yard and balcony, and to keep clear of any fallen powerlines.

Mr Sharpe said the cold front was attached to a low-pressure system near Tasmania and was expected to bring further strong winds and cold temperatures to the ACT on Sunday.

Source : The Canberra Times